Among the greatest thanks… to his wife – Libero Quotidiano

Vittorio Feltri

Once it so happened that an ordinary man, who was driving trucks with six or even eight wheels and on his truck, looking at the world from a height of one and a half meters, had a son who needed only two wheels, two skinny ones, who threw mud. On his face and everyone knew his name. The son did not carry goods, but heavy and voluminous things that the hero carried on his shoulders: talent, sweat, perseverance, loneliness and, finally, glory. I’m talking about Phyllis jimondi, of Bergamo, cyclist, three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia (in 1967, 1969, 1976), the Tour de France in 1965 – the year before he won the Tour de l’Avenir, a French under-23 race – and Velta Spain 1968. I wrote “Bergamo” as the first adjective, and not by chance: I decided to talk about Gimondi because he is an unforgettable athlete, of course, 81 victories in fourteen years of his career, but also because the people of Bergamo moved for three things: Pope Roncali, Atalanta and Gemondi. Phyllis was born in September 1942 in Cedrina, fifteen kilometers from the European capital, the second of three children. The mother was a postal worker, who rambled up and down the mountain–for Sedrina, a municipality of now 2,000 or more, lies right at the entrance to Val Brembana and is already mountainous–and her father owned a small carriage company with horses: he had spent ten years in Brazil, Then he returned to Italy and started with trucks: the first, Gimondi says, was a BL that used wood, with the tank on one side.

The first bike
Dad bought Phyllis’ first bike as a prize to get him promoted to the third grade. Red Ardita was: “I was seven or eight years old. I was so happy I put it on straight away, but I fell and broke my teeth. Because of the amateur luck, there’s a lot of misfortune for the champions. But my first real 16-year-old racing bike As in most families, in those days there is not much money, then the father promises the second son that if he has accompanied him to make a delivery in the Cremona region (transported from sand from Po, and then plaster to building houses) and if he has received Money on the spot – he was a customer who never paid – he would have made the purchase he so much wanted. The boy became fat: the customer paid 30,000 liras and Phyllis got the bike, a second-hand Mavioli.” I left the clogs in my father’s hand, jumped on the saddle and pedaled Barefoot all the way home. At first I didn’t even reach the pedals and then put my leg through the middle of the tire tubes to be able to depress the pedal.”

Indeed, for some time Phyllis was “running”: it often happened that he replaced his mother at the post of a postman and traveled the dirt roads of the Brimbana Valley on a women’s bicycle to deliver letters, parcels and postcards. It was an enormous training ground. Then the chassis weighs 15 kilograms, in addition to the luggage rack. So, with the strong legs of a spare postman, young Gemondi joined Sedrinese, a small company of five or six passengers, “where there was no pressure to get results but we had a lot of fun” and “everyone did a race,” he says. He was 22 when he turned pro, and surprisingly won the Tour de France: he didn’t even have to race and thought he was aiming, at best, for the white jersey for the best youngster. He arrived in the race to replace Battista Papini, as a follower of fellow Vittorio Adorni. That is, he should have helped Adorna win, who in that year, 1965, dealt with the very favorite Frenchman Raymond Poulidor. The Gimondi had a sky-colored, Magni-branded Chiorda bike (he says “I’ve also won Roubaix and Lombardia”), and prolific, unscrupulous power. A young man, who had just arrived, had never been seen running away on his own. After the third stage, he never gave up the yellow jersey: At one point, Adorney had to retire due to food poisoning and ended up turning plans upside down.

Gimondi held out against Poulidor at Mont Ventoux and won two trial runs, earning him the win on his first try. Before him, only Fausto Cope managed to bring this company home. Thus, the young man from Sedrina who was supposed to run only the first three weeks of the tour – his father was waiting for him at home because by the time Felice was working with him he became the fifth Italian in history to win the award. Grande Buckle. Meanwhile, Gimondi married a girl he met in Liguria, in Diano Marina, on vacation, before becoming famous. Tiziana Bersano was born into a family of hoteliers and was accustomed to discos, to be with people on vacation, and she was 19 years old when she found herself in Cedrina. ‘A Nightmare’ he says of his first period in Bergamo; His first impact with the “natives” was “disastrous”. “My first memory of Sedrina is a stone bench on which some ladies in black, with long, black dresses, sat…”. Phyllis claims that half of his victories are thanks to Tiziana, and this is true: they spent their lives together, never heard rumors about her or about him, in love with each other (“For me it was fine, and that’s it”), with two adorable daughters, Norma and Federica The first of the two, Norma, had the desire and ability to follow in her father’s footsteps: “I’m the one who prevented her from becoming a nerd. I wanted him to study. Which is better, how long is cycling for you?” I told her, “Tiziana says. “But she’s athletic, she’s got a perfect style, and a pretty posture. So he’s got determination.”

BERGAMSCO . character
Thus, Tiziana is the first person, besides Gemondi, who made Gemondi great. The second is that of Belgian thief Eddie Merckx, considered the greatest bike racer ever. They called him a “cannibal,” he was so bad (Vittorio Adorni, who raced in those years, said Merckx was competitive even when he raced a paltry: if there was a partial ending with salami as a prize, “it was Quick sprint to win salami”), and Gemondi, who was instead a gentle hero, psychologically in opposites, was always at his feet. “I had to correct my way of being, my way of running. Don’t take them first and then give them, if possible. Because it was hard to give it to him.” It’s unfortunate for sure, but it was also one of the most exciting challenges in cycling history: “We’ve always fought with a knife between our teeth,” Phyllis sums up. “Our generation has made cycling epic and legendary. We raced together for many years (from 1964 to 1978, editor) and it was years of fights.”

In short, Gemondi was the greatest for us, until that Belgian arrived to destroy our party. At the World Championships in 1971, Merckx blew him away with a quick victory, and there were only two of them in the last kilometers. The next day, the newspaper headline was: Eddie Merckx World Champion. Gemondi outperforms the rest of the world. But the man from Bergamo has already rode this trend: in 1970, during an interview on TeleMarche, a French network, Phyllis said, “I think Merckx has prepared me for life, and has taught me that not everything is easy.” The inquisitor mocked him: “What is it? By hitting him? ». “Yes.” For this reason, the most beautiful race, which has remained in everyone’s heart, is the world championship that Tiziana has learned to love, us, Bergamo, mountaineers with big and closed heads (“ The only party Phyllis allowed me to have was on New Year’s, until sixty people came”), our dialect became his language and he says he learned from us true affection:” I got it on the day my husband celebrated his seventieth birthday. nice party. Sincere affection.

winner shoulder
Gimondi managed to get close to Ocaña and another Spaniard Domingo Perurena and his teammate Giovanni Battaglin, Zoetemelk and Maertens. But Merckx on lap 15 offers another stretch, and four remain: Cannibals, Maertens, Gimondi and Ocaña. “Maertens was the fastest. I heard him and Eddie begins to speak: I don’t understand a Flemish word, but I knew what was going on,” says Phyllis. “Maertens threw him into the sprint, but when Eddie hit the pedal, I realized that for once he wasn’t the one I’d have to overpower it.” And in fact, Maertens is busy in the final straight sprint firing the sprint to Merckx, who misses the right moment for the last sprint a little bit because of fatigue and a little because Maertens started the race too hard. At the finish line, Maertens and Gimondi join forces, Then with pressure from the kidneys, the Italian puts the wheel in front and raises his arm to the sky. World champion Felice Gimondi. “Martins wanted to push me” he would later say “but in the end I gave him the shoulder. It was the perfect pace for me.” From that moment on, Bergamo-born, from the luminous pen of Gianni Brera, became “Felix di Mundi” (later, in 1976, after winning the Giro d’Italia at the age of 34 and surrendering, he became the “Nuvola Rossa”). Until today, no one has been able to beat his Giro record: nine times on the podium with three first, two second and four third places. The first thing he thought of, after the Spanish victory, was the house: “My wife was waiting for my little daughter, Federica. I was born on September 20 and I was afraid that I had created negative feelings.” Even today, which no longer exists, there is still a legend to imitate children aged 8 to 13 from the mountain bike school founded with Monsignor Mansueto Callioni, priest of the Almi diocese (it is a small town less than ten kilometers from Bergamo). And for 26 years, the International Granfondo dedicated to the champion has been run in Bergamo: an international race open to all those who, up and down the county’s mountains – from Colle del Gallo to San Pellegrino Terme, up to the Costa Valley of Imagna – race the sea lions. They run in May, these weird, tired-looking humans run, and the city comes to a halt.