On January 2, 1960 aged just 40, Italian cyclist Angelo Fausto Coppi died in Tortona, Italy, after contracting malaria during an exhibition race in Burkina Faso. Fausto Coppi was the dominant cyclist before and after the Second World War. His many successes earned him the title "Il Campionissimo" ("Champion of Champions"). He received a total of 130 victories between 1940 and 1959.
Angelo Fausto Coppi was born in Castellania on 15 September 1919 as one of five children of Domenico Coppi and Angiolina Boveri. As a child he had a poor health and was hardly interested in school. He left school age 13 to work for a local butcher in Novi Ligure. Cycling to and from the butcher shop and meeting cyclists interested him in racing. At the age of 15 Fausto rode and won his first amateur race. He took a racing licence at the start of 1938 and won his first professional race, at Castelleto d'Orba.
|Fausto Coppi and his first racing cycle|
His first career success was in 1940, winning the Giro d'Italia at the age of 20. In 1942 he set a world hour record (45.798 km at the Velodromo Vigorelli in Milan) which stood for 14 years until it was broken by Jacques Anquetil in 1956. His career was then interrupted by the Second World War. In 1946 he resumed racing and achieved remarkable successes from 1946 to 1954 Coppi was never once recaught once he had broken away from the rest.
|Fausto Coppi setting the hour record (1942)|
|Fausto Coppi and Jean Robic in the Tour de France (1952)|
|Fausto Coppi Tour de France Victory (1952)|
- Giro d'Italia five times (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953)
- Tour de France twice (1949 and 1952)
- World Championship (1953)
- Giro di Lombardia five times (1946, 1949, 1948, 1949, 1954)
- Milan – San Remo three times (1946, 1948, 1949)
- Paris–Roubaix (1950)
- La Flèche Wallonne (1950)
- Setting the hour record (45.798 km, 1942)
|Fausto Coppi (left) and rival Gino Bartali (right)|
|Sersi Coppi, Louison Bobet and Fausto Coppi|
|Fausto Coppi and Alfa Romeo 1900 (1952)|
On 22 november 1945 Coppi married Bruna Ciampolini and on 1 November 1947 their only daughter Marina Coppi was born in Genova. The marriage with Bruna was not a happy one and in 1948 Coppi had an affair with Giulia Occhini ("La Dama Bianca"), the wife of an Italian doctor, Enrico Locatelli. Coppi and Occhini married in Mexico, yet the marriage was never recognised in Italy. Their only son, Angelo Fausto Maurizio Coppi, known as Faustino, was born in Buenos Aires on May 13, 1955.
|Marina Coppi and her father Fausto Coppi on a cycle (1952)|
|Fausto Coppi Victory at the World Championship|
with Giulia Occhini, "La Dama Bianca" here in black (1953)
|Giulia Occhini ("La Dama Bianca") and Faustino Coppi (Angelo Fausto Maurizio Coppi)|
When Coppi returned to Italy just before Christmas 1959, after taking part in celebrations for the independence of Burkina Faso with other Italian and French cyclists, he had a fever that he thought was a simple influenza. His doctors thought likewise but Coppi had malaria from which he died. The French rider, Raphaël Géminiani, who shared a room with Coppi during the trip had the same symptoms, but he was treated in time with quinine and survived. Fausto Coppi was buried in Castellania near the grave of his brother Serse Coppi on 4 January 1960.
|Fausto Coppi funeral: last farewell from Giulia Occhini ("La Dama Bianca") (1960)|
Fausto Coppi Funeral (Ialian, 1960)