Every once in a while, maybe once a week I go through a Fausto Coppi moment so I thought I would share this one with you. Anyone who might have looked at this blog before will know I love Fausto Coppi. To me he was the best cyclist to ever ride a bike. The more I find out about him the more I believe in that statement.
Yesterday I picked up this book and am finding it fascinating. I’ve read William Fortheringham’s other books and this is just as good as them.
Voted the most popular Italian sportsman of the twentieth century, Fausto Angelo Coppi was the campionissimo – champion of cycling champions. The greatest cyclist of the immediate postwar years, Coppi’s scandalous divorce and controversial death convulsed Italy in the 1950s and were still making headlines half a century later. In “Fallen Angel”, William Fotheringham, author of the definitive biography of Tom Simpson, tells Coppi’s story for the first time for an English-speaking audience. Coppi was the first man to win cycling’s great double, the Tour de France and Tour of Italy in the same year – and he did it twice. He achieved mythical status for his crushing solo victories, world titles and world records. His epic rivalry with Gino Bartali divided Italian opinion for a decade. But his significance extends far beyond his sport. Coppi’s divorce remains a landmark case in Italy’s shift away from the church. In the 1950s, adultery in Italy was still a criminal offence, punishable by up to a year in prison. Coppi and his lover, the ‘White Lady’ Giulia Occhini, both married with children, were dragged from their beds in the middle of the night. They were excommunicated, and a clamorous legal battle followed. The ‘White Lady’ was forced to leave the country; Coppi himself died aged just forty, from malaria contracted during an insignificant race in Africa. “Fallen Angel” tells the story of Coppi’s tragic life and death, of how a man who became the symbol of a nation’s rebirth after the disasters of war died reviled and heartbroken. It is a unique portrait of Italy and Italian sport at a time of tumultuous social change.
About the Author
William Fotheringham writes for the Guardian and Observer on cycling and rugby. He is the author of a biography of Tom Simpson, Put Me Back on My Bike, which was acclaimed by Velo magazine as ‘the best cycling biography ever written’ and Roule Britannia: A History of Britons in the Tour de France.
I thought I should also post some images of the main man himself as well.
Another book on Fausto Coppi that i recommend is this. There are some amazing photographs in here and the essays are good too.