Ottavia Bottecchia was the first Italian winner of the Tour De France. He acomplished that feat in 1924 and 1925. His death in 1927 is still a bit of a mystery.
Bicycles were made in his name after his death. This one has the rare
Campagnolo Cambio Corsa gear system. Two levers run up the right side
seat stay. One is to loosen the wheel in the dropout and the other
to do the shifting. The dropout is notched to mesh with the axle
which also has nothches on each end. The wheel will move forward or
back to accomodate the shift from one rear cog to the next. Very
tricky move to perform, especially in race conditions.
Also shown here is an envelope from the 1948 Tour de France that shows the race route with a postal and ink stamp for every start/finish town. Most notably is the fact that it was signed by two of cycling's greatest riders, Louison Bobet and Gino Bartali. Bartali won the Tour in 1948, ten years after he first won in 1938. He also won numerous other major races including Giro d'Italia three times. He was especially known for his battles with fellow Italian, Fausto Coppi. Gino "The Pious" was very dapper and image conscious, as seen on the following page, but was also a very religious man. According to the Tuscan regional government, Gino helped to deliver documents needed to create false identity papers for Jews that faced persecution during World War II, often hiding them in his bicycle frame. He delivered them to priests, nuns, bishops, and friars whom were part of an underground escape network during World War II. Bobet also had his fair share of success, finishing fourth in what was his second Tour in '48. He was the first rider to win the Tour three consecutive times, which he did between 1953 and 1955. Bobet also won the four major classic races: Milan-San Remo, Tour of Lombardy, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix; and won the World Championship Road Race in 1954. Both are shown during the 1948 tour on the following page.