Alfredo Martini, the man that led Italy to six world titles, has died at the age of 93. The former Italian national coach passed away on Monday in his home in Sesto Fiorentino.
Born in the wake of the First World War in Florence, Martini turned professional with Bianchi in the midst of the second, in 1941. Unlike many of his compatriots, Martini survived the war. His prime as a cyclist came in 1950, when he won the Giro del Piemonte, a stage of the Giro d’Italia and finished third overall. He would also wear the pink jersey for a day. The following season he claimed his only victory outside of his home nation with a stage of the Tour de Suisse.
However, it was Martini’s time as the national coach that would put him in the hearts of a nation. At the age of 36, Martini hung up his racing wheels in 1957. It wasn’t until 12 years later that he turned his hand to a career as directeur sportif with Ferretti, where he would win the Giro d’Italia with Gösta Pettersson. He stayed with the team for four seasons, before a short spell at Sammontana. Martini made his debut as the Italian national coach in 1975. Italy failed to podium at the World Championships that season, but things picked up the next year with Francesco Moser and Tino Conti getting silver and bronze in Ostuni.
Martini’s first world championship win as coach came in 1977 with Francesco Moser in San Cristóbal. Another five would come over the next twenty years with Giuseppe Saronni (1982), Moreno Argentin (1986), Maurizio Fonriest (1988) and Gianni Bugno (1991, 1992). His teams would lay claim to another seven silver and bronze medals. He would eventually hand over to Antonio Fusi, who only lasted four years in the post.
Martini remained as a supervisor for the Italian team, after his retirement in 1997. He was also the honorary president of the Italian National Federation. The Italian has suffered a lot of ill-health in recent years and skipped the World Championships in Florence, despite them being so close to home.
Current national coach Davide Cassani rode under Martini between 1985 and 1996. “My eyes are filled with tears. I would have given anything to see him in the Italian team car that was his for 23 years. Ciao Alfredo. I already miss you,” he wrote on Twitter.
Reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali also paid tribute to Martini on the social media site. “You couldn’t give worse news than this! Farewell Alfredo Martini, a great man. Your words will be missed!” He wrote.
Martini’s funeral will be held on Wednesday at 4pm.