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The Champ

Fabio Casartelli was an Italian rider born in 1970 in Como (Italy). He lived with his family in Albese con Cassano (Italy) and began to race very soon, at the age of nine, with Mobili Zappa di Cremnago (Primavera category). He conquered 40 wins in the first four year of his career, proving him as a puncheur.

Subsequently Casartelli joined the Juniors category with Comense-Banca Briantea. He won 4 races – including Cucciago e Pinarolo Po – until a mononucleosis virus forced him to a long rest. In this period he graduated as electronic appraiser ahead of returning to race.

In 1990 he claimed three wins with his new team Diana amateur team. In July Fabio had a bad injury as he was hit by a car in Pistoia (Italy) and forced to stop again. Once he returned on saddle with Domus ’87 team in Bergamo directed by Olivano Locatelli, Casartelli was rising up conquering 7 wins in 1991– including Montecarlo-Alessio and G.P. Capodarco.

The 1992 was his best season: 10 wins including 4 consecutive international races: Montecarlo-Alassio, the G.P. Diana, the Trofeo Longera ZSSDI in Slovenia and the “Trofeo Caduti di Soprazocco”. This sounded like the prelude to the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics road race in Barcelona bringing the name of Fabio Casartelli into the cycling history. Pursued by the best professional teams, Fabio eventually joined Ceramiche Ariostea – an Italian squad lining up many cycling prospects.

Fabio made his debut in the Giro d’Italia and conquered the hot-sprints jersey. After he was runner-up at Tour de Suisse, a scaphoid fracture forced him to close the season in advance.

In 1994 Casartelli switched to another team – “ZG Mobili-Selle Italia-Bottecchia” – but a series of injuries – he also underwent to a knee surgery – limited his results. He restarted  from Team Motorola, alongside Lance Armstrong, with his friend Andrea Peron. Sports director James Ochowicz’s and team manager Hennie Kuiper’s advices, as well as Dr. Massimo Testa’s support were pure energy for Casartelli, who came back in great shape.

Unfortunately on July 18, 1995 Tour de France stage 15 from Saint Girons to Cauterets, something irreparable happened. At the 34 km, on the Col de Portet d’Aspet descent, an accident involved 6 riders, including Fabio Casartelli who laid still on the road. The rescue were not enough to save his life. Casartelli stopped breathing and died. He left his wife Annalisa Rosetti and his son Marco.

Casartelli’s generosity and humanity were remarkable. He was a friend to everyone. His fans loved him for modesty and likeability as well as his professional skills. Casartelli’s memory is still alive today.