Friday File: Honoring Fiorenzo Magni, Rabobank Walks and Coffee Time

The late Fiorenzo Magni sporting Nivea skin cream...

This morning, I awoke sleepy eye and turned on my computer and was suddenly awaken by the sad news of the passing of the great Fiorenzo Magni.  He was 91 years old and was the third man in the golden age of cycling. He is part of the important and famous sacred trinity of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali.

As the third great Italian rider of his era, he mainly rode in the shadow of his more famous rivals. But, of course, that doesn't mean he always rode in the background. He was built for flatter races and not as a super climber. True, he had class to win three Giro d'Italia (1948, 1951, 1955) but he was built for the cobbles of Belgium.

The forties and fifties was the time for the Italian Magni ... in Belgium.

The Tour of Flanders...
a favorite for the Lion of Flanders!

The Tour of Flanders, was the perfect race built for the Italian. Long, flat and tough. Magni more than rode well and shocked the Belgians going to the front and basically putting the rest of the riders in the hurt locker. He punished his fellow competitors becoming the first rider to win the Tour of Flanders three times in succession (1949, 1950, 1951). Belgians love his panache and honored him as the Lion of Flanders.

This great rider contributed in another way that would stay forever in cycling...

He was an astute business man and recognize declining bicycling sales as auto sales rose. The rugged and bald Magni turned to Nivea skin cream to sponsor his team. The extra-sportif was born. Thanks to Magni this was a commercial success as many more extra-sportif jumped on bicycling's new face.

A fantastic tribute awaits, as Giro d'Italia organizers will dedicate the maglia rosa of the 2013 Giro to Magni.

More stunning news, and this one will take time to settle as Rabobank leaves its long sponsorship of professional cycling. Following the publication of the USADA report, the bank will halt sponsorship (after 17 years) of its men's and women's pro teams at the end of 2012. Also, Rabobank rider Carlos Barredo is under investigation by the UCI following analysis of his blood profile in the biological passport doping program.

Bert Bruggink, board of governors, pessimistically said...

It is with a heavy heart, but it is an irreversible decision for our bank. We are no longer convinced that the international professional cycling world is capable of creating a clean and honest sport.

Rabobank walks...

David Millar tweeted,

Dear Rabobank, you were part of the problem. How dare you walk away from your young clean guys who are part of the solution. Sickening.

Commercial Damage...

I'm reeling that the bank, with a total sponsorship of 15 million Euros a year leaves the high profile Dutch Rabobank team in a cycling crazy nation that has as many bikes as people. I hope I'm wrong here when I wonder how many more sponsors are contemplating leaving the sport if the UCI fails to act on doping. The ball is back in their court where they can finally turn it around and deal fairly and quickly to the rejevenation of the sport. The UCI will hopefully come 'clean' this Monday with their announce decision on the USADA 'reasoned decision' findings.

Giant killer... 

The title sponsor sadly leaves but there is a glimmer of good news that Giant Bicycles is considering taking over as sponsor of the Rabobank team. It looks to make sense, they already supply bikes to the team and have their European headquarters in Lelystad, the Netherlands.

So, as cycling rolls on shaky ground let's all do this today...


Great write up!

Fiorenzo Magni's legacy is a breath of fresh air in these turbulent times we see the sport of cycling going through. Cycling needs to go back to the way they did things half a century ago to bring the purity and authenticity back into the sport.

One cannot downplay the relationship between coffee and cycling. All great cyclists are coffee connoisseurs. Perhaps Starbucks can pick up the slack where Rabobank left off.