Fiorenzo Magni

Back in 1997 when we launched Team Horst Sports (then known as the Horst Engineering Cycling Team), we chose our official USA Cycling club name:

G.S. Fiorenzo Magni

The rationale at the time was that we needed an official name that would stick with us. Back in ’97, I had recently read a Winning magazine story about a legendary Italian cyclist. Fiorenzo Magni, the Lion of Flanders, was in his late 70’s at the time. I read the story and was interested in this man’s results, but more importantly, I was so impressed with the style with which he rode.

The Ronde van Vlaanderen has always been my favorite bicycle race. The parcours is as challenging as it gets and Magni won the race three times. He was never as popular as Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi, his two big rivals.

He was from a different era. I can’t say that the riders didn’t cheat (performance enhancing drugs) back in his day, but he was a hard man regardless of how he achieved those victories.

The story that stood out most for me in that Winning article was about the time that he broke his left clavicle in stage 12 of the 1956 Giro d’Italia, but still finished the race in 2nd place. The photo is from that race and is described in this Wikipedia entry:

At the hospital he refused a to put on a plaster cast and refused to abandon the Giro in the year of his announced retirement. Magni continued the race with his shoulder wrapped in an elastic bandage. To compensate for his inability to apply force with his left arm, he raced while holding a piece of rubber inner tube attached to his handlebar between his teeth for extra leverage.

After learning about this man, there was no question about who we would honor with our club name, and everyone agreed that Magni was the kind of rider who we aspired to be like. Over the years, every time I have written a check from our club’s bank account, I’ve smiled at the name on the check. My own athletic exploits have been fueled for years by the inspiration of men like him.

We mourn the death of Fiorenzo Magni. He passed away today at the age of 91.

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