Franco Bitossi ” The crazy heart”

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Passo dello Stelvio

An excellent junior and amateur, with respectively ten and twenty wins, turns professional in 1961 within the Philco ranks, winning just the second stage (Campobasso-Termoli) in the Three Days of the South
Despite this successful debut, his first two years of professionalism were not particularly brilliant. But it was the start of a long career (18 seasons) dotted with victories in prestigious races in particular. Three Italian Road Championships, two Tours of Sydney, two Zurich Championships, and other major races, are set out in his palmares despite the renowned cardiac hypertrophy he suffered from (hence the nickname “Cuore Matto”). It often forced him to stop racing on the edge, sometimes mid-race, to bring his pulse back to normal, before resuming to recover, and try to challenge the win. In reality it was more of a psychological than a physiological problem, such that in the’70s, thanks to the care of his team doctor Dr. Falai, the problem appeared less (but the nickname remained).

He was not really a man for general classement although you should still remember the good placings he achieved in the Giro d’Italia (7th, 8th and a 10th place) victory in the Tour of Switzerland in 1965 and in the Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya in 1970.

He had many successes yet, paradoxically, is often remembered maybe more for a defeat: the World Championships in 1972 in Gap, he was commanding in the last kilometre but was passed at no more than ten meters from the finish by teammate Marino Basso, which deprived him of the rainbow jersey. He was a protagonist in other editions of the Worlds, fourth at Imola in 1968 and third in 1977 in San Cristobal, Venezuela.

 

 

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