Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cycling Monuments, Memorials, Plaques, etc., Part III

Jac Zwart, author of the Dutch language book "Wielermonumenten - Reisgids door de geschiedenis van de wielersport" (Cycling Monuments - Travel Guide through the History of the Sport of Cycling), makes his first appearance as a guest contributor with this wonderful story.

"For a couple of years I have been passionately searching for locations of cycling monuments, to take pictures of them and to find out for whatever reasons they exist. To know if there is a story they are trying to let us remember. Usually that can be great fun, but sometimes a little bit frustrating as well.

This summer my wife and I had our holidays in beautiful Tuscany, where I had put some cycling routes together. One of them included a small sidestep into Umbria, when cycling around the Lake Trasimeno. We must have seen the small road sign pointing to the little town of Terontola, because it was only at 6 kilometer distance. At that time I was fully unaware of the existence of a plaquette on a wall of the local railway station in honour of Gino Bartali. That plaquette was unveiled on June 17, 2008, in presence of his wife Adriana and his son Andrea, and it celebrates the heroic behaviour of "il pio" during World War II. Bartali himself has never mentioned what he has done, but only recently it became known that he transported falsified identification documents for Jewish people in the tubes of his frame during regular training rides from Ponte a Ema to Assisi. He usually stopped in Terontola for a rest and to deliver the documents to the resistance. When continuing his ride, the local people would start cheering and encouraging him, creating the opportunity for the people hiding to enter the train behind the backs of the applauding police. It is estimated that by doing this the lives of about 850 were saved in the years 1943/1944.

So I didn't take this picture of the monument myself, I found it somewhere on the internet. Whenever someone reading this blog has the ability to take a picture in higher resolution, feel free to contact me by e-mail (jaczwart@planet.nl). I am planning additional contributions to the Italian Cycling Journal, highlighting other cycling monuments in Italy, although the frequency will be irregular and depending on available time. And since a collection can hardly be complete, I appreciate any hint or tip that you are able to give me. "

ed. note: Bartali's participation in the resistance was only revealed after his death in May, 2000. On April 25, 2005, he was posthumously conferred the "Medaglia d’Oro al Merito Civile" by the President of the Italian Republic.

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact me at veronaman@gmail.com. There are more than 1,000 stories in this blog; the search feature to the right works best for finding subjects in the blog.

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