Italian sport is in mourning. At the age of 76, Felice Gimondi , world cycling champion, died. On vacation with his family, he was a guest in a hotel in Giardini Naxos, the tourist resort of Messina near Taormina. When he got sick he was taking a bath. A Coast Guard patrol boat also intervened in the stretch of water, but all attempts to revive it by the doctors were useless. The former Italian champion, who was suffering from heart, according to rescuers would have died of a heart attack.
Gimondi was one of the seven riders to have won all three great Tours: the Giro d’Italia (three times, in 1967, 1969 and 1976), the Tour de France(in 1965) and the Vuelta a Espana (in 1968). He also won a World Championship in 1973.
Other than “eternal second”, as someone had defined him for that long and hard challenge with Eddy Merckx and the many placings behind the Belgian. Originally from Sedrina, in Val Brembana, born in 1942, he would have turned 77 on 29 September. Instead he was the only one to resist the voracious vein of the ‘Cannibal’ Merckx , second overall – after Anquetil – to complete the Triple Crown in the Grand Tours, world champion in 1973 in Barcelona, ​​master of the Roubaix pave and the pitfalls of Sanremo .
Gianni Brera, who described his exploits, had coined the nicknames for himFelix de Mondi and Nuvola Rossa . His career began in the decade after the end of Magni’s. He goes to the Tour de France in 1965, he won a surprise and only the next day he resigned as postman, “Because I wanted to work there,” I explain. That Tour, for the physical exuberance and the reckless way of racing, is one of the three fundamental moments of his career. “Then there is the 1976 Giro (the third won after those of ’67 and ’69, ed), when in the group I was considered an old man, for the tactics and management of the race – he himself tells years later – And the World Championship (of 1971, ed), for having believed in it even knowing that he was beaten », once again by the ‘Cannibal’. That was a bit of Gimondi’s motto, forced to surrender only against Merckx. His “biggest disappointment” remained for a long time to be beaten by the Belgian time trial for the first time, at the Tour of Catalonia: “It took me two years to understand it: Merckx was stronger than me”.

“I’ll be behind his wheel” also says a verse from the song dedicated to him by Enrico Ruggeri, “Gimondi and the Cannibal” . decisive to the final success of Johan De Muynck, whom he had beaten two years earlier, now his teammate. He ended his road career in October 1978 by participating in the Giro dell’Emilia. Under a professional contract with Bianchi-Faema also in 1979, he obtained third place in the Italian indoor omnium championship in February of that year. In the fifteen seasons as a pro he won a total of 141 races.After his retirement Gimondi was sporting director of Gewiss-Bianchi in 1988, and subsequently, in 2000, president of Mercatone Uno-Albacom, the team of Marco Pantani.

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