Monday, March 12, 2012

Fausto Coppi (and the Lady in White)

Angelo Fausto Coppi (1919 – 1960), was the dominant international cyclist of the years each side of the Second World War. His successes earned him the title Il Campionissimo, or champion of champions. He was an all-round racing cyclist: he excelled in both climbing and time trialing, and was also a great sprinter. He won the Giro d'Italia five times (19401947194919521953), the Tour de France twice (1949 and 1952), and the World Championship in 1953. Other notable results include winning the Giro di Lombardia five times, the Milan – San Remo three times, as well as wins at Paris–Roubaix and La Flèche Wallonne and setting the hour record (45.798 km) in 1942.
(The married) Fausto caused huge controversy in Catholic and puritan Italy when leaving his wife for (the also married) Giulia Occhini, described by the French broadcaster Jean-Paul Ollivier as "strikingly beautiful with thick chestnut hair divided into enormous plaits". The Pope himself intervened, to no avail. 
Coppi's life story was depicted in the 1995 TV movie, Il Grande Fausto, written and directed by Alberto Sironi. Coppi was played by Sergio Castellitto and Giulia la 'Dama Bianca' (The Woman in White) was played by Ornella Muti.

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