With a palmarès that reads five Giro d'Italia's wins, two Tour de France wins, a world championship title, three Milan–San Remo's, four Giro di Lombardia's and a Paris-Roubaix along with many others, Fausto Coppi one of history's greatest to have ever raced a bike. It's no surprise that Coppi earned himself the nickname Il Campionissimo for his exploits, particularly between 1946 and 1954 when he dominated the sport.
"Fausto was a shy elegant man. He was physically gifted with a slender figure and he had a very slow pulse rate that gave him an advantage over other riders who had faster beating hearts," explained Coppi's cousin.
"Despute this, Fausto was training every day cycling 170-180 kilometres with his domestiques. During winter, when it wasn't possible to ride on the roads, he trained on wooden rollers in his home."
Along with Coppi, only Alfredo Binda and Eddy Merckx can boast of five Giro victories, and considering the difficulty that he faced, Coppi should be considered "the greatest of all" explained his cousin.
"Also considering the state of the roads back in those times as well the food that he ate, only natural without he supplements of today, let alone he drugs which didn't even exist," he added.
While Coppi's star had begun to fade in the late 1950s, he was still regularly competing and remained a household name of the sport. In 1959, Coppi was invited to Burkina Faso along with Raphaël Géminiani, Jacques Anquetil, Louison Bobet, Roger Hassenforder and Henry Anglade on a trip would prove to be fatal.
Returning to Italy with a fever, Coppi would never recover from the illness and would be dead just over one week later.
"Once back at his home, he started feeling feverish with the first symptoms of malaria that later took his life. Unfortunately no one at the time understood he had malaria. He should have been taken to hospital immediate and not home," he said.
"Clinical tests should have been carried out to examine his blood but this didn't happen unfortunately. Fausto died eight days later of a fever and I was told he suffered a great deal."
Despite his young death at the age of just 40, Coppi is still a revered figure of the sport and his legacy is remembered by the Giro d'Italia which honours Coppi each year with the Cima Coppi prize, awarded to the first rider over the highest summit in the race since 1965. In 2015, the 2178 metre unpaved Colle delle Finestre marks the Cima Coppi on stage 20.
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