ROME – Felice Gimondi died at the age of 76, a cyclist who has won everything but who has always suffered the dualism with Eddy Merckx. In his career he won the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta. But also the World Championship, which in its time had just come out of the minority of the competitive races to be – finally – considered for what it was: among the online races if not the most important, at least on a par with the prestigious ones.
And yet, even now, the eternal dualism with Eddy Merckx weighs him down, even if it is not always true, constantly behind, constantly one centimeter away from success.
Anyone who knows about cycling knows that Merckx was the greatest of his generation, but he also knows that Gimondi Felice, Sendrina's padano in the province of Bergamo, was equally great. At least when the eternal rival did not appear at the start. If anything, Gimondi was the last, but also the first.
Felice Gimondi, the first post-Coppi champion.
The last of a heroic cycling that a few years before his debut (1964, victory at the Tour de l'Avenir) had greeted the Campionissimo returning from a big hunt in Africa. But also the first: of a generation in which professionalism on two wheels was transformed and became a little more impersonal, a little less cohesive.
In short, professionalism became a profession after a long gestation period of decades. It is not by chance that after him there would have been Hinaults, and even the dualism between Moser and Saronni would never have warmed the hearts, nor made to exclaim on the radio "There is one man in command".
If the dates make sense, that 1965 that saw him triumph at the Tour to everyone's surprise (starting with his captain at Salvarani, Adorni) is also the last year of the great Italian boom. The sun was going down on the post-war season, incubating the Hot Autumn, and also Gianni Brera who eighteen years before burst into metaphors to describe Coppi first in Paris, for him – wearily, manneristically – he could not manage anything better than a limp " Red Cloud".
He had Bartali eyes and rooster smile, and long legs. Not like those of Anquetil, the Blond Heron who barely had time to attend his debut, and perhaps not even like those of Coppi himself. But to an Italy that was still peasant in the depths of the heart, in which the masters of Vigevano barely discovered the joys of home-made uppers, was able to give the last genuine thrills of victory in the land of France, among the fluttering newspapers.
The eternal rivalry with Eddy Merckx.
Too bad for that Belgian, and moreover Flemish, who came out immediately after him, indeed when he was about to explode as the best in the world in an absolute sense, and stole the show. But what could be done against one who was immediately called the Cannibal? The fact is that Merckx of gasoline in the engine really had so much. What's more, in the engine he had, as the advertising in those days said, a tiger.
And yes, it really was the best in the world. But as for the World Cup, Felice was able to extract his satisfaction.
The triumph at the World Cup in 1973.
It was 1973. A year earlier, in the sprint, the world race had gone to Marino Basso: great talent, not a champion. He had buggerato everybody in the sprint that closed a long fugue for four: he, Franco Bitossi (who does not digest this conclusion), Merckx and Guimard.
Gimondi studies the final three minutes of the race for a whole year, and when he completes the 17th lap of Mont Jiuc in that of Barcelona he is at the side of Ocana, Maertes and, of course, of the Cannibal. He waits for Maertens to launch, starting from behind. But Gimondi, who had learned well at the wheel of Merckx, does not let himself be drawn into the trap.
Let a handful of seconds pass, those in which the rival is forced to come out into the open, then spear him even if he was a newbie and leave him behind. The Cannibal, at that point, yields to a crash: aut Caesar aut nihil and he is, indignantly, in fourth place. Just because he couldn't get fifteenth anymore.
The duel between the two will last another five years. When they both give up, a few months apart from each other in 1978, the world champion is already a robust-legged boy called Francesco Moser. It's another cycling, another Italy. Far from the splendor tinged with tragedy of Marco Pantani, but who has forgotten the dirt roads of Ginettaccio and Campionissimo forever. And where passing a flask, among rivals, has become almost impossible. (Source Agi).
The article Felice Gimondi, eternal second behind Merckx. Even if he won everything it seems to be the first on daily Blitz .
Source: Blitz Quotidiano