At the question 'What is my first memory about cycling?', without any hesitation I would answer that stage in the Tour de France where Bernard Hinaut defended the yellow jersey covered with blood. I think that was the Tour of ’85; I was watching it on my grandfather's TV.
The names in that edition of the race were mythical: LeMond, Fignon, Madiot and of course the great Bernard...
At my home we have always breathed the air of the sports, but never practiced any of them seriously. When it came to sports on the TV we had a full calendar: the soccer world championships, the Olympic games and obviously “la plus grande course cycliste du monde”: Le Tour de France.
Nobody in my family had ever taken part in cycling. The bike was principally the best means of transportation for my grandfather who did not have a driver's license. It was because of a crash in front of my grandmother's house that she and my grandfather met. I can honestly say that without the bike I would not be here today.
My grandfather spoke always with admiration about Fausto Coppi and about his big win at the Lugano world championships in 53, even though he was racing for Italy, which was not so loved in my home country Ticino. But Coppi was a great man and for the Swiss fans it was easier to digest the defeat - it was the case that the national Ferdi Kubler won in Varese few years before, so it was like returning the favour.
The Tour was always in my dreams from that image of the yellow jersey covered with blood - it represented everything: fatigue, pain and suffering of the hero. I would like for this blog post to inspire a young athlete that has the great dream to become a professional rider and to race in the biggest races in the world. My personal route was sometimes funny, but I would never change a thing, even if I could. But why the Tour? Because for us Swiss people is the most important race. Okay, the Tour de Suisse is also a very good race, but it is always a step behind. Pietro Algeri was always saying that when you finish your first Tour and you arrive in Paris, it is like graduating from the university of cycling.
Cycling for everyone has more defeat than victory, even for the great Eddy Merckx who won over 400 races, more pain than wellness, more effort than glory, but all of that combined makes cycling so fascinating. The public wants to see the hell before heaven: the suffering before the win. You need to stay dedicated to your dream. The real cyclist is a person who after a bad race on Sunday wakes up on Monday and is ready to go out on the bike to train to get better. These were the thoughts that I had when I started riding my bike at the age of 12. Ten years later I took part in my first Tour de France, but that was not the one where I wore the yellow jersey. That Tour is a whole other story...
Thanks for reading,