Sunday, June 26, 2022
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Felice Gimondi


Felice Gimondi has died, whilst swimming at the beach resort of Giardini Naxos, Sicily on 16th August. We pay tribute to one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

I’d just come out of anaesthetic after my operation and the first thing I saw was a name badge on an orderly’s chest, ‘Felice’ it read.

Which part of Italy are you from ?’ I slurred.

Birmingham!’ the orderly sneered at me.

Undaunted, I pressed on; ‘there’s a famous Italian cyclist called Felice Gimondi…’ 

The lad’s voice softened and he looked at me quizzically ‘my father was Italian and Gimondi’s biggest fan – that’s who I’m named after,’ he smiled.

I went from being an old fool to gaining respect in a single sentence.

Then there was the time back in 1974 when ITV actually WAS showing footage from Milan-Sanremo on a Saturday afternoon in between, soccer, wrestling – it was big back then – golf, bowling and whatever else. 

I was watching on our tiny black and white TV – my dad reckoned colour televisions were a ‘gimmick’ – and there was Felice, solo, in all his stylish, rainbow jerseyed glory on his Bianchi on the Ligurian coast road bound for a glorious victory on the Via Roma.

I was puzzled though, after he passed, the tifosi were throwing themselves down on their knees on to the tarmac, as if in prayer – then I realised, they were kissing the tar which he just ridden over.

As if I hadn’t known already, I now realised categorically that there would only ever be one sport for me.