BICI ITALIA would be remise if we didn’t commemorate the birthday of il Pio.
Gino Bartali was not only one of THE greatest cyclists of all-time, but a humanitarian of equal importance. Winning the Giro d'Italia three times and the Tour de France twice over a span of twelve years, and an impressive career that spanned roughly two decades; Bartoli is a cycling legend to which the like has not been seen since he stopped pushing pedals.
But what makes him a true hero, is the fact that he helped save hundreds of Jews from the Nazis by using his hero-status to courier counterfeit identity papers to Jews who were at risk of being deported to concentration camps. The papers were hidden in the frame of his bike as he rode on ‘training rides’ between Italy’s largest cities despite the heavy presence of Fascist police and German troops. He also took in a Jewish family and hid them in his cellar until the liberation of Florence in 1944.
His nickname, il Pio, or Gino the Pious, was born from his unwavering dedication to his religion. As such, he was known to pray before meals, resent teammates use of swear words and set up shrines in his tour hotel rooms. To this day, he is remembered as one of the Vatican’s favorite sportsmen.
Bartali was a legendary cyclist, humanitarian hero and above all else, a humble man. When asked why he didn’t speak of his secret WWII missions, he replied, "You must do good, but you must not talk about it. If you talk about it you’re taking advantage of others’ misfortunes for your own gain,“
Today, on what would be your 103th birthday, ci salutiamo, Gino. We wish there were more sportsmen like you today.
Want to participate in an event that honors Bartali and all the heroic cyclists of his day? Join us for L'Eroica. Click here for more information.