By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Born 85 years ago today in Firenze, Italy, Alfredo Martini was the Commissario Tecnico for the Italian National road team from 1975 to 1997. In twenty-two years, Martini guided the squadra azzuro to 6 world titles by riders like Francesco Moser, Giuseppe Sarroni, Moreno Argentin, Maurizio Fondriest and Gianni Bugno, who took two World Championships for Martini. And then there were "i piazziamenti" (placings); seven silver medals and seven bronze, 30 percent of all the medals awarded during the two decades and change that Martini ran the Italian Worlds squad.
Known as a smart, tenacious "passista-scalatore", Martini was a professional rider from 1941 to 1957. His best year was 1950, when he won Stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia, and wore the Maglia Rosa for one day later in the race, eventually finishing 3rd behind Koblet and Bartali, but ahead of Swiss rider Ferdi Kubler. Martini also won the Giro del Piemonte and was second in the Italian championship that year, where he lost to speedy Tony Bevilaqua in a close sprint. Later on in 1950, Martini was again second to French sprinter DuPont in Paris-Tours. Of the 14 Giros d'Italia that he rode, Martini was in the top 10 six times. Above all, Martini was a precious "gregario" for Fausto Coppi on the Bianchi squad, for whom he rode for in two Tour de France wins ('49 & '52) and Fiorenzo Magni. Besides his talents as a rider, Martini was valued for his ability to read a race, something that served him well as direttore sportivo for the Ferretti and Sammontana teams between 1969-1974.