March 15 , 2009

Fallen Angel

The Passion of Fausto Coppi


Voted the most popular Italian sportsman of the twentieth century, Fausto Angelo Coppi was the campionissimo - champion of champions. The greatest cyclist of the immediate post-war years, he was the first man to win cycling's great double, the Tour de France and Tour of Italy in the same year - and he did it twice. He achieved mythical status for his crushing solo victories, world titles and world records. But his significance extends far beyond his sport.

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What makes a man the greatest of all time? Eddy Merckx is to cycling what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Pelé to football: quite simply, the best there has ever been. Merckx was a machine. It wasn't just the number of victories (445); it was his remorseless domination that created the legend. He didn't just beat his opponents, he…

Coppi's scandalous divorce and controversial early death convulsed a conservative, staunchly Roman Catholic Italy in the 1950s. At a time when adultery was still illegal, Coppi and his lover were dragged from their bed in the middle of the night, excommunicated and forced to face a clamorous legal battle. The ramifications of this case are still being felt today.

In Fallen Angel, acclaimed cycling biographer, William Fotheringham, tells the tragic story of Coppi's life and death - of how a man who became the symbol of a nation's rebirth after the disasters of war died reviled and heartbroken. Told with insight and intelligence, this is a unique portrait of Italy and Italian sport at a time of tumultuous change.

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