Monday 6 September 2021

Photo of the day - 6: Talking to Norma Gimondi about Felice


As part of the work that I am doing on a feature article about the Tour of Lombardy I had the pleasure of interviewing Norma Gimondi on the phone. She is the daughter of the man above, Felice Gimondi, one of Italy's greatest bike racers. 

Felice won all three of the Grand Tours (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana) in the 60s and 70s, including winning the Giro three times. He also won the World Championships in 1973, and the Tour of Lombardy twice. The great man sadly passed away at the age of 76, a couple of years ago after suffering a heart attack while on holiday. 

I have good memories of interviewing Felice Gimondi in Bergamo in 2012, when I took part in the eponymous cyclosportive (Gran Fondo) held in his honour. So it was good to speak to Norma today. She had lots of stories to tell about her father's days racing, and she spoke with a lot of pride. She mentioned how much he enjoyed riding up the Madonna del Ghisallo climb, and how he got the hunger knock and left with nothing to eat he had to pick figs off the trees. She also mentioned how upset Eddy Merckx was when Felice beat him at the Tour of Lombardy. Even in 2014 at gala event, almost 50 years after the event, Eddy didn't want to be reminded of the day and refused to autograph a photo she had of her dad crossing the finish line ahead of Merckx. 

Norma said it always makes her feel happy to talk about Papa, as she calls him. Based in Bergamo, where the family is established, Norma is a lawyer by trade, and she is also vice president of the Italian Cycling Federation. For her, it is important to preserve the Gimondi name in cycling, and that is one way that she can do it - through being involved in Italian cycling. I really enjoyed my chat with Norma Gimondi, and hope I get to meet her in person in the not-distant future.

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