Born in Florence on July 18, 1914, Gino Bartali was a typical Tuscan: hard working, hard-headed and deeply religious.
Although nicknamed “Gino the Pious”, Bartali was ruthless on the road. Early in his career, two famed Italian sprinters tried to box him in at the finish of a road race. Instead of going around them, he rode right between them, causing all three to crash in a bloody mess. After that, no one tried to box in Gino.
Bartali is mostly remembered for his long standing battle with Fausto Coppi which resulted in epic physical struggles in the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo and Tour of Lombardy. Bartali was five years older than Coppi and was the established star in Italian cycling.
At least as much as Coppi, but perhaps more so, World War II took its bite out of Bartali’s career, since the war happened during Bartali’s peak athletic years (late twenties to early thirties).
Bartali won his first climber’s jersey in the Giro in 1935 at age 20 and won his last cycling monument classic in the 1950 Milan-San Remo at age 35. He rode professionally for twenty years and was competitive in major races even after age 40.
Gino was a great climber who won the mountains jersey competition in the Giro d’Italia a record seven times.
He won five Grand Tour titles including the Tour de France twice and the Giro d’Italia three times.