1949 is the golden year for Fausto Coppi, the year in which people begin calling him "Campionissimo" (the Great Champion).
He first wins the classical race that opens the cycling season, the Milan-Sanremo, reaching Fachleitner and Ortelli up on the Turchino and arriving with more than 4 minutes earlier than the second rider, Ortelli.
Then comes the Giro. After the stages on the plains, Alfredo Leoni wears the Maglia Rosa (the pink jersey), with 9 minutes over Coppi and 10 over Bartali. In the stage on the Dolomites, Fausto sprints ahead and Bartali can follow him in the attack only for a while, also because he gets a puncture on the Pordoi.
At the end of this stage Alfredo Leoni still wears the Maglia Rosa but Fausto Coppi's delay amounts to 43 seconds only. The eighteenth stage is very hard, one of the hardest ever seen in the Giro.
It goes from Cuneo to Pinerolo, through the French mountain passes of Vars, Izoard, Maddalena and Monginevro and continuing in Italy with the climbing of Sestrière, covering an overall distance of 254 km.
This tremendous race is the theatre of one of Coppi's most beautiful performances as he sprints on the Maddalena and leads the race alone for 190 Km. Bartali tries desperately to reach him but Fausto Coppi comes first with 12 minutes over Gino Bartali, who arrives second.
This stage determines the final result of the Giro: Fausto Coppi wins it outdistancing Bartali for a total of 23 minutes.
A couple of weeks later the Tour de France starts. During the fifth stage, from Rouen to Saint Malo, an accident occurs to Fausto Coppi: it's very hot and a dozen of competitors sprint ahead and accumulate more than 6 minutes over the others. Then, crossing a little village, Marinelli, Maillôt Jaune (yellow jersey), hits Coppi while trying to catch a bottle of water from a member of the audience.
The fall does not injure the cyclists but breaks Coppi's bicycle; Marinelli stands up and starts riding again while Coppi can't continue. The Bianchi team manager, Trigella, arrives immediately with another bike but it is not Coppi's one so Coppi refuses to ride it.
Fausto Coppi's bikes are on a car driven by Binda, who is late. This is very annoying for everyone and Fausto Coppi keeps on saying he doesn't want another rider's bicycle -- but he would have never thrown his bicycle out of the road! Bartali arrives and decides to wait for Coppi. Finally Binda brings the right bicycle and the two champions can continue their race.
Coppi falls into a crisis and wastes a lot of time as he's probably too angry and irritated to concentrate on the race and he has already lost all the advantage he took before the accident. He finishes the stage more than 18 minutes after the winner increasing the delay on Marinelli, still Maillôt Jaune, which now amounts to 35 minutes.
Coppi is now seriously considering about withdrawing from the race but Alfredo Binda, Ettore Milano, Biagio Cavanna and many others persuade him to continue. The day after, Fausto Coppi starts his comeback winning the time trial and as the days go by, the more he gains in the chart. Then, it's the turn of the mountain stages, with the well-known passes of Vars and Izoard.
Here Fausto and Bartali make their greatest effort: they lead the race with a good advantage and it seems that nothing can mine their sprint. Suddenly, Bartali gets a puncture and falls. At first Coppi waits a while for his team-mate but then he realizes he's wasting too much time and, with Binda's approval, continues by himself.
Fausto arrives to Saint-Vincent 5 minutes before Bartali e 10 minutes before Robic.
Fausto Coppi wears the Maillôt Jaune and he will wear it up to the end, increasing even more the leap on the other competitors.
The Tour does not close the cycling season: 1949 is the year of the Cycling World Championship in Copenhagen.
Here Fausto comes third in the road-race and wins the individual pursuit race on track and back home he wins both the Italian Road Championship and the Giro di Lombardia, distancing enormously the other cyclists.