Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation
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The inspiring, against-the-odds story of Gino Bartali, the cyclist who made the greatest comeback in Tour de France history and secretly aided the Italian resistance during World War II
Gino Bartali is best known as an Italian cycling legend who not only won the Tour de France twice but also holds the record for the longest time span between victories. In Road to Valor, Aili and Andres McConnon chronicle Bartali’s journey, from an impoverished childhood in rural Tuscany to his first triumph at the 1938 Tour de France. As World War II ravaged Europe, Bartali undertook dangerous activities to help those being targeted in Italy, including sheltering a family of Jews and smuggling counterfeit identity documents in the frame of his bicycle. After the grueling wartime years, the chain-smoking, Chianti-loving, 34-year-old underdog came back to win the 1948 Tour de France, an exhilarating performance that helped unite his fractured homeland.
Based on nearly ten years of research, Road to Valor is the first book ever written about Bartali in English and the only book written in any language to explore the full scope of Bartali’s wartime work. An epic tale of courage, resilience, and redemption, it is the untold story of one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.
D’Hospital, the Italian foreign minister told his French counterpart that De Gasperi was considering sending a telegram to Gino encouraging him to win. It appears that this telegram was never sent, likely because De Gasperi had already contacted Gino by phone in the intervening period since he had spoken with his foreign minister. 48 Phone conversation between Gino and De Gasperi The dialogue of the exchange between Gino and De Gasperi is from one of Gino’s autobiographies (Bartali, La leggenda,
Italian soccer team for their support of Mussolini, Gino’s religious beliefs distanced him from the regime. The French press did not characterize him as a Fascist, as many would try to do in Italy. While the newspapers hailed his victory as a foregone conclusion, Gino knew how quickly a cyclist’s fortunes could change. So he remained intensely focused on the race and kept the journalists and fans trying to guess his mood. If he had performed as he hoped, he was gracious and spoke freely with all
limpid, like the pure water of the creek in my native village, the Ema,” Gino said. After so many childhood days spent in quiet Ponte a Ema, Florence was a tantalizing hive of activity, buzzing with strange new sounds, colors, and tastes. To start, there were the men plying trades that Gino had never seen before: rag men who sold used strips of cloth for cleaning, men who mended broken umbrellas, rod men who offered to fix broken terra-cotta bowls with iron thread. In the late spring there were
court of public opinion. Where some saw an aging athlete growing increasingly desperate, another group, a devoted but shrinking contingent of bartaliani, hung on to the flickering prospects of a renaissance. Gino knew that the only race that could settle the debate was the one that had consumed him for the last decade: the Tour de France. It was the Tour where he first won cycling’s crown; it was the Tour where he would have to return to reclaim it. 11 Les Macaroni Gino Bartali
idea for the first time of committing the assassination myself.” In France, the morning of the fourteenth was unfolding in a happier manner. The nation was celebrating Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day. In Paris on this day everyone was a boulevardier, eagerly strolling the city’s vast avenues in search of amusement. In the morning they could enjoy the grand military parade in the Champs-Élysées, where the president of the Republic was set to appear as the guest of honor. In the