Brief History

A man, alone, at the top of the race, his jersey is white and light-blue, his name is Fausto Coppi

Fausto Coppi was born in Castellania, a very small town on the Piedmont hills, located at an altitude of 380 m above sea level, near Alessandria, on September 15, 1919.
He was the fourth child (of five) of Domenico Coppi and Angiolina Boveri (brothers and sisters are Livio, Dina, Maria and Serse).
At the age of thirteen he worked as an apprentice in a delicatessen in Novi Ligure and one of its tasks was to be in charge for the deliveries of the store using a bycicle thus beginning to grind kilometers in the saddle.

In Novi Ligure he met Biagio Cavanna, former masseur of Girardengo and Guerra, which will be his "discoverer" and the first one to trust him.
Fausto Coppi seemed to have a fragile body (and this was partially true, just look at the list of his injuries) but at the same time he had the characteristics that make him suitable for endurance under stress: an agile muscular, long slender legs and a cardiorespiratory system out of the ordinary due to broad chest, lung capacity and the very low value of heartbeats per minute.

Fausto began racing in 1937 and became a professional in 1939 starting to collect the first victories. In 1940 he joined the Legnano cycling team, Gino Bartali’s team, and it is with this shirt that in June of '40 he won his first Giro d’Italia.
Fausto Coppi was just twenty years old and is the youngest winner of the Giro.

On November,19421942 Coppi tried successfully to accomplish the hour record and on November 7th, on the track of the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan, he captured this success.
At this point, unfortunately, the war takes over and Fausto Coppi has to leave for North Africa as a corporal of the division "Ravenna".
Taken prisoner by the English army,he get back in Italy in February 1945 and then received a gift: a bicycle thanks to the interest of the "Gazzetta dello Sport" and restarts to race and win.

Also in 1945, at the end of the war, Fausto Coppi returns home and marries Bruna Ciampolini.
In 1946 Fausto Coppi leaves the Legnano team and sign for the Bianchi (the famous "maglia biancoceleste" : the white and pale-blue shirt).
The debut will take place at Milano-San Remo and Fausto Coppi won it after a solo ride of 150 km. with a gap of 14 minutes on the second runner.

After another victory in the 1947 Giro d’Italia the 1949 is the year of the definitive consecration for Fausto Coppi: again the Milano-San Remo, again the Giro d’Italia and finally the Tour de France victories are the most important: no one before him was able to win both the Giro and the Tour in the same year, now Fausto Coppi is known from all as the "Campionissimo"
1950 will be marked by a triple fracture of the pelvis that Campionissimo procures during the Primolano stage of the Giro d’Italia, while 1951 will be even more tragic because of the death of his brother Serse Coppi that on June 29, during the Giro del Piemonte falls 2 km from the arrival slipping on a tram rail. Although he hit his head, Serse Coppi stands up gets up and finish the race but the same evening, at the hotel, dies from brain hemorrhage.

Upset and thinking about dropping the races the Campionissimo after a few days is ready at the start of the Tour de France but between the high and low ends he finish at tenth place, 46 minutes from the winner, Louison Bobet.
In 1952 Fausto Coppi becomes again the Campionissimo winning for the second time both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France but a few days after the end of the Grande Boucle he falls again during a meeting on track in Perpignan fracturing the left clavicle and scapula.

In 1953 comes the fifth victory in the Giro d’Italia and finally the World Road Championship in Lugano.
Lugano is also the place where for the first time appears alongside Fausto the ‘Dama Bianca’ (white lady): it’s the beginning of the most discussed love story of cycling, the one between Fausto Coppi and Giulia Occhini.

The following years are the beginning of the decline, the victories of the Campionissimo are less frequent but Fausto Coppi is still famous: the difference now is that people and magazines are not talking and writing about his performasnces but more and more because of his love affair with Giulia Occhini. Both being already married their relationship is violently opposed by most of the public .
Giulia Occhini’s husband complaint either and reported them to the Italian Police.
This leads to a Police night raid in their home at night to see if the couple shared a bed, the arrest of Giulia Occhini and finally a process at the end of which both are sentenced .
Then they get married in Mexico and give birth to their son Angelo Fausto Coppi aka "Faustino" in Argentina so he can take the surname Coppi, which would have been impossible in Italy.
Also the Pope, Pius XII, pleaded with Coppi to return to his wife and even put pressure on the Italian Cycling Federation to exclude him from competition.

In December of 1959 Fausto Coppi travels with some friends for a trip to Africa to participate in a competition in Ouagadougou (now capital of Burkina Faso) and after in a hunting expedition. (hunting was his passion)
Back in Italy the Campionissimo falls ill with a high fever.
He has contracted malaria in Africa but doctors fail to diagnose and treat it as a strong influence. Fausto Coppi died at 8:45AM on January 2, 1960, at the age of forty.

He is buried in Castellania with his brother Serse.