Brain tumour claims 51-year-old Italian coach
Aldo Sassi has died of cancer at age 51. The Italian lost his battle against a brain tumour overnight.
Sassi had announced in April that he was suffering from the life-threatening tumour and had undergone brain surgery and chemotherapy.
He continued to work as a coach at the Mapei Centre, training such riders as Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso and Riccardo Ricco.
Sassi was a sports doctor and a former general manager of the Mapei team- He created the Mapei coaching and testing centre in Castellanza, and was always known for his anti-doping stance.
Sassi had most recently been working with Riccardo Ricco, who has recently returned from a twenty-month doping ban. He was eager to take on the controversial Italian, calling him “the best climber out there,” but who had been “surrounded by people who don't advise him well.”
Ricco, now riding for Vacansoleil, had already undergone the first tests at the Mapei Centre.
Basso is another who trained with Sassi upon his return from a doping-related suspension. Basso, of Team Liquigas, won this year's Giro d'Italia.
Sassi was not afraid to take on such riders, and said that he would guarantee this his riders were clean. He denied comments from Italian anti-doping investigator Ettore Torri, who said that doping was pervasive in the peloton.
"Torri maintains that nobody is clean, but I say that’s not true,” Sassi explained. “It’s for this reason that I continue to work in cycling. You can ride and win a Giro even without doping.”
Upon learning of the news, Basso tweeted, “Goodbye, Aldo. Your friendship and love will always be in my heart.”
Michael Rogers, another client, tweeted, “RIP Aldo. Thank you for everything you gave and taught me!”
Charles Wegelius said simply, "Goodbye Aldo, I will miss you."
"Today I lost a piece of my heart,” said Mapei president Giorgio Squinzi to tuttobiciweb.it.
Cyclingnews extends its condolences to Sassi's wife and three children.
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