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10. Fausto Coppi

  • By VeloNews.com
  • Published Nov. 20, 2013
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Cycling's history is one full of brilliant performances, tragic stories, brave heroes, and scandalous villains. With more than 100 years of collective experience telling the tales of two wheels, the VeloNews staff has seen the best and worst of bike racing up close. In 2013, we charged our editors with compiling their own best-of lists across a number of categories. Through a series of votes set around our sometimes contentious, often loud editorial table, we narrowed the first of these lists down to Velo's Top 10 Climbers of All Time. There are certainly deserving riders left off the final list — just as there are riders included here that some may question. No best-of list comes without some level of controversy. Far be it from us, however, to shy away from a little controversy. The greatest of all time? Fausto Coppi would probably tell you so. Even his greatest rival, Gino Bartali, couldn’t help but shower Coppi with praise: “On a bike, Fausto was like a god. When we got off he was a mortal, but when he pedaled he was supernatural. His suppleness, his form, this plasticity in motion constituted a complete spectacle. It’s easy to understand the enthusiasm of so many to see him in action.”

Coppi’s crowning achievement in the mountains came at the 1949 Giro d’Italia. In a 254-kilometer monster of a stage that would take the riders over five Cat. 1 climbs — the Maddalena, Vars, Izoard, Montgenevre, and Sestriere — Coppi attacked half way up the first. Why not?

There were 192 kilometers left, some eight hours in which Coppi stamped his authority over everyone and everything, including Bartali, his rival and countryman. Eleven minutes, 52 seconds after the stage winner rolled over the line that day, Bartali grimly came through as Coppi stood on the podium.

Tall, rather frail looking, one of the greatest cyclists of all time, as dominant in the mountains as anyone in history, “Il Campionissimo” won the Giro d’Italia five times, the Tour de France twice, and was world champion in 1953. Photo: AFP

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