Fausto Coppi

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Fausto Coppi 1952
Coppi (r.) With Hugo Koblet (Giro d'Italia 1953)
Coppi and Giulia Occhini, the "dama bianca" (1954)
Memorial stone for Coppi at the Pordoi Pass (Italy)

Fausto Coppi (born September 15, 1919 in Castellania , † January 2, 1960 in Tortona ) was an Italian cyclist and three-time world champion. Coppi, known as "il Campionissimo" ("World Champion of the World Champions"), was one of the most successful and popular cyclists in history. He won the Tour de France twice and the Giro d'Italia five times . The racing bike manufacturer he founded was taken over by Masciaghi in 1994, including the trademark rights .


Fausto Coppi had a carefree childhood. After attending school, he began an apprenticeship as a butcher in Novi Ligure. As he was an avid cyclist, he took part in regional races in his spare time, including the 1937 Boffalora cycling race. A year later he won the race. During this time the blind masseur Biagio Cavanne (1893–1961) became aware of him. In 1939 he wrote several letters to cycling companies and drew attention to Coppi's talent. Thereupon Coppi received an invitation from the Legnanon company and was allowed to take part in the Giro d´Italia as early as 1940.

Cycling career

Here Fausto Coppi celebrated his first major success at the age of 20. The condition of his participation was that he was scheduled as a second driver and supporter of Gino Bartali (1914-2000), who had won the Giro the previous year . However, Bartali crashed in the first stage and could not continue. This cleared the way for Coppi. In a thrilling race, he was the youngest driver to take victory. And in 1942 he set a new world hour record (45.871 km) that would last for 14 years until Jacques Anquetil improved it in 1956. Coppi later admitted to having been doped with amphetamines during this record run. His promising career was interrupted by the Second World War, he was drafted into the Italian army and served in Africa. Here he was captured by English troops and returned to Italy in 1945 from the prison camp. It wasn't until 1946 that he was able to race again. After a seven-year break, he won the Giro d'Italia for the second time in 1947. A series of successes followed, which was only to be surpassed by Eddy Merckx .

Twice, in 1949 and 1952, Coppi was the first racing driver to win the coveted "Double", that is, the overall ranking of the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in succession. The "Campionissimo" achieved a total of five victories at the Giro, and together with Alfredo Binda and Eddy Merckx he holds the record. Fausto Coppi also dominated the toughest one-day races, despite a certain sprint weakness: he won the Lombardy Tour five times , three times Milan – Sanremo and once Paris – Roubaix . In addition, he became road world champion in 1953 . In the same year, he was not invited by those responsible for the Tour de France, as they feared that Coppi's dominance would reduce public interest in the tour.

Rivalry with Bartali

Fausto Coppi's active period is said to be the beginning of the “golden age of cycling ” for Italy. An important factor for this assessment is the competition between Coppi and Gino Bartali , who is five years older than him . With Bartali and Coppi, the two greatest Italian cyclists of their time met - the most famous rivalry in cycling history developed and the huge Italian fan base was divided into the camps of the "Bartalists" and the "Coppists".

In reality, however, neither of them saw themselves as rivals, which is also reflected in a legendary picture by reporter Carlo Martini from 1952, when Bartali last took part in a Tour de France at the age of 38 and finished fourth again: Coppi was ahead in the gold jersey through the alpine stone desert on the Col du Galibier , behind him Gino Bartali. Coppi stretches his right arm back, Bartali leans forward over the handlebars and hands the rival a bidon (a drinking bottle). Martini's photo agency later revealed that the famous picture had been recreated especially for the photographer: in reality, the scene had taken place the day before.

Private and death

His sporting career was also marked by strokes of fate. In 1951 Fausto Coppi and his younger brother Serse , who was also a cyclist, took part in the Giro d´Italia. While driving through town, Serse's bike got stuck in a tram track, fell and fell unhappily on his head. He died as a result of the onset of cerebral bleeding. Coppi was so horrified by this that he wanted to stop racing. His two sisters also died at a young age. Fausto himself suffered countless broken bones and serious injuries in the course of his career, including at the Giro d'Italia 1950. Here he suffered a triple pelvic fracture in a fall.

In 1953 it became public that Coppi had left his wife Bruna Campolini to live with the also married Giulia Occhini, the so-called "dama bianca". In Italy in the 1950s, this liaison was a scandal. Even the Pope publicly demanded that Coppi return to his wife. Both were sentenced to suspended sentences for adultery and for refusing to end their relationship. Since it was not possible in the then Catholic Italy, both married in Mexico in 1955. The son Angelo Fausto, called Faustino, was born in Argentina.

At the end of 1959, Fausto Coppi took part in a tour of Africa. After the race, there was a hunt in the wild. He and another cyclist infected himself with malaria in the African Upper Volta . The disease broke out on his return to Italy, but the pathogen was initially not recognized in the hospital, and Coppi died at the age of 40. His grave is in the mausoleo of his birthplace Castellania (since 2019 Castellania Coppi ) in Piedmont .


In honor of Fausto Coppi, the Cima Coppi mountain classification has been awarded at the highest point of the Giro d'Italia since 1965 . This climb brings the most points in the mountain classification of the Giros . The most common so far has been the Pordoi Pass . There are several monuments in Coppi's honor in Italy.

The asteroid (214820) Faustocoppi was also named after him in 2017.

In March 2019, the regional administration of Piedmont agreed to the request of the municipal council of Castellania, the birthplace of Coppi and his brother Serse, to call themselves Castellania Coppi on the occasion of Fausto's 100th birthday . The team time trial of the Giro d'Italia Femminile 2019 will end in Castellania Coppi in front of the grave of the Coppi brothers. Fausto Coppi was the first cyclist to be named Sports Journalist of the Year by sports journalists in a country .


  • Walter Lemke: Fausto Coppi. 20 years of international cycling: the life path of the Italian racing driver. Fuchs-Verlag, Miesbach 1999, ISBN 3-00-004687-9 (extensive illustrated biography)

Web links

Commons : Fausto Coppi  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ralf Meutgens : Doping im Radsport , Bielefeld 2007, p. 253. ISBN 978-3-7688-5245-6
  2. Peter Hartmann: "Creating a lost world: Coppi, Bartali and Pantani, doping, blood and gasoline. Italy loves the myths and stories about its racing cyclists." - Neue Zürcher Zeitung, international edition: Monday, May 22, 2017, 32.
  3. knerger.de: The grave of Fausto Coppi
  4. Bill McGann, Carol McGann: 1965 Giro d'Italia ( en ) In: Bike Race Info . Dog Ear Publishing. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  5. Castellania diventa Castellania Coppi in omaggio: Castellania diventa Castellania Coppi in omaggio al Campionissimo - SpazioCiclismo. In: cyclingpro.net. March 26, 2019, accessed March 27, 2019 (Italian).
  6. Renamed place of birth in honor of Coppi. In: rad-net.de. March 28, 2019, accessed March 28, 2019 .
  7. ^ Ralf Schröder: Cycling. History, culture, practice . Die Werkstatt, Göttingen 2002, ISBN 3-89533-364-6 , p. 211 .