1960, the great heron closes his wings.

In the December of the '59 Fausto Coppi, Raphael Geminiani, Jacques Anquetil and other racers come guests to a Criterium in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).

This meeting had been organized in to celebrate the anniversary of the freedom of the young African nation and it was followed from a safari organized for the racers.
It's probably during this safari that, due to a bite of a mosquito, Coppi contracts the evil that will kill after few time.
Returned home Fausto begins to feel weak and feverish and on 27th December his conditions get worse and forced him to bed, but the doctor who visited him diagnosed only a strong flu.

On January 1st the situation appeared so serious to persuade the doctors to shelter Fausto Coppi at the hospital of Tortona, without alter their diagnosis (one of them thought about a strong bronchitis, but nothing else).

In the meantime, in France, also Raphael Geminiani had been stricken from the same illness, and French doctors diagnosed the malaria just in time and they took care of the French champion.

Geminiani's brother phoned immediately in Italy to advise Fausto's doctor but ,incredible, he got a rough answer from a doctor who told him "don't worry about Coppi's health !"

On January 2nd, at 8.45 of the morning, after one night of agony, Fausto Coppi died, killed from the malaria that the doctors did not diagnosed.

The most admired athlete of his time and probably also the loved, got two days after, in Castellania, the last goodbye from the fans, from the friends and from the former opponents : almost 50,000 persons participated to the funeral of Fausto Coppi.

And the last greeting, maybe the most famous one, is still imprinted in the memory: it had been wrote by Orio Vergani on the pages of the Gazetta dello Sport:

The great heron has closed his wings.