Gino Bartali’s 104th Birthday – For most cyclists, winning a major race like the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia would represent the crowning achievement of an athletic career. For champion road cyclist Gino Bartali, winning both of these competitions—thrice and twice, respectively—was just part of his legacy as both an athlete and humanitarian.
Born in Florence on this day in 1914, Bartali used his celebrity and his skill as a cyclist to help people under threat of deportation or worse. Having started competitive cycling at age 13, he won more than 180 races, making Bartali a local hero throughout the 1930s and 1940s. As a result he was able to ride through the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside undisturbed by wartime officials. Given this cover, he concealed documents in his bike’s handlebars, sometimes delivering photographs of Jews who needed forged identity cards to save their lives. He continued this work even after being questioned and threatened by Mussolini’s government agents.
It wasn’t until 2003 that stories began to emerge about his quiet heroism during the war, which included hiding a Jewish family in his basement. Risking his own freedom and safety to protect others, Bartali turned his sport into a race to save lives..
Buon compleanno Gino Bartali!
You can find more about Gino Bartali’s 104th Birthday on the official Google Doodle Page