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Farewell to 'The Legend' of American cycling

By:
John Stevenson
Published:
January 19, 2006, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:25 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News for January 19, 2006
John Sinibaldi in 2004

John Sinibaldi in 2004

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US racer John Sinibaldi, an Olympian at the 1932 and 1936 Games, died last week. Les Woodland looks...

US racer John Sinibaldi, an Olympian at the 1932 and 1936 Games, died last week. Les Woodland looks back at the career of a rider who kept racing all the way through his long life and was known to all as 'The Legend'.

The American comedian George Burns used to have a good line. When TV hosts said it was good of him to be on their show, he'd raise an eyebrow and say: "At my age, it's good to be anywhere."

John Sinibaldi probably smiled at that as well. In one of his last interviews, he said quietly: "I'd like to live to be 100… but I'm not promising anything."

Well, George Burns made it. John Sinibaldi died on January 10. He was 92.

And so? John Sinibaldi was one of cycling's last remaining connections with the notorious Hitler Olympics of 1936, having already ridden the Los Angeles Games of 1932. Nothing much came of either - he came down with food poisoning at the first and crashed in the second. But for many people, that'd have been enough. A shrug, a smile, a good tale told over a pint of beer. "Did I ever tell you about the day I saw Hitler in Berlin? I did? Well, let me tell you again anyway…"

No, Sinibaldi's career was somewhat on the right side of different. This was a man who set an American 100km record that lasted 50 years. It was 2:25:09. At 80, he had five national championship jerseys for riders of his age. When he died on January 10, he was the oldest man in America to have a racing licence. Probably the oldest man in the world. At 91, he travelled to Utah from Florida to try for his 18th national time-trial championship.

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