Who knows when your race will be run?

Angelo Fausto Coppi.

As you may already know, Coppi was a remarkable Italian cyclist of the 1940s and 1950s – surely Italy’s finest all-round rider ever. Dubbed Il Campionissimo, or champion of champions, Coppi dominated racing either side of WWII winning the Giro five times, the Tour twice, a World Championship in 1953, not to mention 10 of cycling’s Monuments.


If anyone had earned a long and glorious retirement, surely he had. But life isn’t quite like that, certainly not for Signor Coppi. (That said, he did confess to using la bomba during his career and had a scandalous affair with Giulia Occhini that saw him shamed as an adulterer, and spat on by many of those who once cheered for him. In the land of the Pope, he was no Saint).

Alas, there would be no glorious ending for Coppi. He died at the age of just 40 from, of all things, malaria. The fateful mozzie bite occurred on a one-off trip to Burkina Faso in 1959, where he and fellow top European riders of the time had been invited to race, and then hunt, by President Maurice Yameogo. In return for handsome payment, of course.

No one could beat him. But a mosquito did.

Morale to the story? Keep the Aerogard handy.


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