Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Friday, October 19, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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...
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Before plastic water bottles...
Fiorenzo Magni reaches for a aluminum water bottle stoppered with cork... getting set for another stage at the Giro, circa 1949 or 1950.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
The Golden Trio,
Bartali, Magni & Coppi.
'People say that I was unlucky to ride with Coppi and Bartali...
it isn't true. I was very lucky. Those two devils taught me how to lose properly.'
I'm reading the engrossing and comprehensive book on the history of Italian cycling, 'Pedalare Pedalare' by John Foot. It is this book in mind that I write on one of my favorite Italian cyclists of all time... Fiorenzo Magni.
The 'other' Italian of cycling in the 1940s and 1950s was Fiorenzo Magni. He would have been a superstar in any other country and at any other time. In the era of Coppi and Bartali, there was no way for this great rider to be first. He fought like a lion over the pave, winning the Tour of Flanders three times. And, he also won three Giri d'Italia (1948, 1951 & 1955) and many other races.
He rode in the shadow of Coppi and Bartali, but whenever they lost, he would step in to win. He was the third man of Italian cycling, unfair to say; turning bald prematurely, unglamorous (not like his two rivals) and avoided publicity keeping a low profile outside of racing.
But his Third Man persona changed outside of Italy. Magni had huge reserves of strength and determination especially enduring the cold Belgium classic, the Tour of Flanders. He won three in succession (1949-1951) the only rider to do this amazing feat.
He loved cold weather and in the 1949 edition was urged on by the fans with tea and beer. How Belgian is that? In the 1950 race, Flandrian star Briek Schotte was second to Magni, afterwards saying that 'Fiorenzo was like a non-stopping express train. Once he had set off he only stopped at the finish line.' He loved the rain and cold temperatures saying 'as money in the bank'. In all, he rode four and won three. Belgians honored him as the Lion of Flanders.
Magni was born in the Tuscan town of Vaiano in 1920, outliving Bartali and Coppi becoming a living memory of the golden age of cycling... a living legend now at 91.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Fiorenzo Magni getting ready for a training ride.
Note the spare tyre in the bottle cage, fenders for
the foul weather and classic wool knickers!
The cycling season is over and most riders have elected to ease off the bike or just stop for a much needed break.
Now, if you're fortunate enough to live in an area where you can avoid the nasty weather conditions (ie snow), then you've got it made. So continuing to ride, to keep the much needed fitness level up, is the perfect off season tonic.
Today was -2C dry and happily snow free, in Vancouver. I couldn't go out for a ride but I did watch as a group of two wheel hearty souls rode by my front window for a chilly morning training ride. How I wish I could do the same only that this is our busiest time of the season, that means work before pleasure.
But there are exceptions. With the recent news of Yaroslav Popvych back to November training, a month earlier than usual to peak for Paris-Roubaix is ... a rare breed. He plans to help Cancellara win and get a good result. Now that's commitment.
As I sit. pondering when I can fit in a couple of hours for a ride, I can smile that someone, somewhere is out there pounding the pavement with their two wheeled partner.
At this point, just thinking of my next ride ...makes me happy!
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
note: Fausto Coppi's giant fatty.
note: Fausto Coppi's giant fatty.
This image certainly depicts some of the giants of cycling in 1948.
Take away their jerseys and these gentlemen would look equally comfortable sitting in leather chairs with suits on smoking stogies in an exclusive club.
This star studded bunch are (l to r): Brik Schotte (World Road Champion), Gino Bartali (Tour de France winner), Fiorenzo Magni (Giro winner), unidentified Wilier Triestina rider, Louison Bobet (4th overall TdF), Fausto Coppi (Milan-San Remo/Lombardia) & Ferdi Kubler (TdSuisse, TdRomandie).
Smoking was considered a stress leveler back in the early days of cycling. Little was known of it's harmful side effects. Eddy Merckx said, "In 1968, during the Tour of Italy, the team doctor advised me to smoke a cigarette after my evening meal to help me relax."
Of course, today smoking doesn't deserve the notoriety of the past. Now, looking at this image, it predates another era where smoking was kin to sports success. At least, that's what I will give it!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Fiorenzo Magni is 90 years old today.
The 1949 Tour of Flanders...
Magni (right), becoming a lion.
This magnificent rider, from the golden age of cycling, had so much skill that he could challenge Fausto Coppi & Gino Bartali. His all around talent help him win three Giro d’Italia (1948, 1951 & 1955). But, further success extended outside the Italian borders.
Riders of the 40s & 50s normally raced in their own countries. Magni thought otherwise and proceeded to win three straight Tours of Flanders (1949-1951). After winning his third Flanders, in 1951, Magni became the second foreigner to conquer the cobbles. The Belgians knew for their beloved race to succeed in stature is from foreign victories. Fiorenzo Magni, the outsider, was soon recognized as the Lion of Flanders.
Like Fausto Coppi, who was also adept at riding over the cobbles, Magni rode over the pave like a true Flandrian. When Coppi won the 1950 Paris-Roubaix, the resilient Magni finished third.
Heartache surely came at the 1950 Tour. After stage 11, Gino Bartali won the stage and Magni took the yellow jersey. Bartali claimed that spectators threatened him after a fall, on top of the Aspin, with Jean Robic. The Italian team withdrew perhaps denying Magni of his place in Tour history.
His astuteness off the bicycle was equally famous. In 1954, he presented a team promoting Nivea skin cream. He changed the 'face' of cycling by bringing sponsors to cycle racing from outside the bike trade. Advertising as extra-sportif businesses that continues today.
Fiorenzo Magni is the president of the Museo del Ghisallo next to the famous Sanctuary of the Madonna del Ghisallo in Como. One of the oldest living heroes of cycling, he is the ever faithful patron of cycling. Creating a new home for all the momentos & trophies from legendary champions. A champion on and off the bike, Fiorenzo Magni has our unwavering gratitude!
Magni behind Koblet will finish with the silver.
photo: Marcel Segessemann