Friday, January 13, 2023

Felice Gimondi

 Felice Gimondi

Felice Gimondi won almost everything there was to win despite racing during the same period as Eddy Merckx.

We have a small connection with the great man - back when Heather first came to Italy during her college days she spent some time with an Italian family in Bergamo. Renato Fossani was an Italian journalist who a few years before came to the USA to cover the Tour of America, a race put on by the Tour de France organizers on the US east coast.

A call went out for interpreters to help with foreign journalists at the race and Heather volunteered. Fossani was one of the journo's she helped and as he left told her if she was ever in Italy to look him up. She was there visiting an aunt in Genoa and decided to do just that!

Turned out that one of his newspaper jobs was as a sort of ghost-writer for the great Italian champ, Gimondi. One day "Foss" (whose brother Giacomo was a coach for Olympic champ Fabio Casartelli when he was a junior and later worked for some pro teams) took her to meet Felice at the office where he sold insurance. She left with an autographed photo and some nice memories.

Years later she went back, this time with yours truly bearing a world champion jersey he'd been using to collect autographs from those who'd worn one. He already had quite a few including Hinault, LeMond, Saronni and Moser and knew that "Foss" would join us later after a dinner honoring the Italian champ. He asked (well, Heather asked) the "Foss" to take the jersey and ask Gimondi to autograph it. Of course he would do that, but turned out her husband had forgotten to bring it!!!

Oh well, "Foss" had to go, saying he was running late and would see us the next day. The next morning as we approached his house, he appeared on the 1st floor balcony and tossed us a couple of jerseys still in their original plastic bags.

You can see one above. Since Heather's idiot husband had forgotten the jersey, "Foss" drove over to another friend's office, a guy he may even have driven to the dinner with - one Pietro Santini. Yep, THAT Santini, a boyhood friend and founder of the cycling clothing company.

"Foss" grabbed a couple of replica jerseys and took those to the dinner, having them autographed and personalized for us by Gimondi! We've since sold off all the other autographed jerseys we had (including the other rainbow) except for these that were stuffed into a box stored in the USA.

We brought them back with us this summer and finally managed to find someone to frame them for us so they can be displayed in our Sicilian home. Ironically, Gimondi suffered a fatal heart attack in Sicily while swimming in the sea not too far north of us.

The B/W photo in the frame with the maglia rosa is the autographed one she got from Gimondi back at that first visit while the color photo in the frame with the rainbow jersey is an autographed one Zio Lorenzo got from the man himself at a bike show when Bianchi brought him over to promote the bike brand he spent most of his career on. 


No comments:

Post a Comment