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Felice Gimondi

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameFelice•Gimondi
Used nameFelice•Gimondi
Born29 September 1942 in Sedrina, Bergamo (ITA)
Died16 August 2019 in Giardini-Naxos, Messina (ITA)
Measurements181 cm / 78 kg
AffiliationsC.S.I. Sedrinese, (ITA)
NOC Italy

Biography

The long line of successful Italian cyclists seemed to end with the retirement of Fausto Coppi. The fanatical Italian cycling fans had little to cheer between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s, until the arrival of Felice Gimondi.

Born in a small village near Bergamo in Northern Italy, Gimondi started his amateur cycling career in 1963, and that first year finished seventh in the Italian Road Race Champiosnhip. Very few people had heard of Gimondi when he was selected for the Italian team to take part in the 1964 Tour de l’Avenir, but they soon had, because the the 21-year-old won the race. At the end of that year, he turned professional with the Salvarani team, which he remained loyal to until the pulled out of the sport in 1972.

In his first year as a professional, Gimondi won seven races, including the Tour de France. He came into “The Tour” as a late replacement for a Salvarani team mate, and soon dispelled any ideas that he was just another Italian rider with a fast sprint, as he proved himself a capable climber, sprinter and time-triallist as he won three stages on the way to victory.

Gimondi’s success continued in 1966 when he won three Classics, the Tour of Lombardy, Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Brussels. No Italian had ever won more than three Classics in one year so here was Gimondi up with the greats in only his second season as a professional. The following year saw him win the first of three Giros (Tour of Italy), the second being in 1969 when controversy surrounded Eddy Merckx’s withdrawal following an alleged doping offence. In between these two Giro successes, Gimondi won the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) at his one and only attempt. Victory in the Vuelta meant the Italian was only the second man after the great Jacques Anquetil to win all three Grand Tours.

Gimondi won the hearts of the British racing fans in 1970 after finishing third behind Jean-Pierre Monseré (Belgium) and Leif Mortensen (Denmark) in the World Road Championships at Mallory Park, Leicestershire. Having finished second to Merckx at the 1971 Worlds, Gimoldi gained revenge by outsprinting the Belgian in 1973. Now part of the Bianchi team, it was unfortunate for the Italian that he was continually racing in the shadow of Merckx, and having finished second to Merckx at the World Championship, Tour de France, two Giro d’Italia’s, Tour of Flanders Tour of Lombardy and the Milano-San Remo, Gimondi wondered if he would ever get the chance to put the record straight. The 1973 World Championship went a long way to doing that.

Other major races won by Gimondi included the Grand Prix de Nations (1967 and 1968) and the Italian Road Race Championship (1968 and 1972). After a 15-year professional career, Gimondi retired from road racing at the end of the 1978 season, having proved himself to be the next great Italian cyclist after Coppi. After retiring from racing, Gimondi was with Gewiss in the late 1980s and was president of the Mercatone Uno team. He also worked for cycle manufacturer Bianchi, and was a member of the UCI’s ProTour Council in the late 2000s.

Gimondi died while swimming on holiday in Sicily and, at the time of his death in 2019, was one of just seven men to have won all three Grand Tours alongside Anquetil, Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1964 Summer Olympics Cycling Road (Cycling) ITA Felice Gimondi
Road Race, Individual, Men (Olympic) 33

Special Notes