Before becoming one of the pioneers of modern Italian cycling design Cino Cinelli was a great cycling champion.
The palmarés of his brief but distinguished career between the years of 1938-1944 included victories at Il Giro di Lombardia, Tre Valli Varesine, the Italian National Championships, Milano-Sanremo, and eight days in the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia.
In an epoch of giants (Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi were his principal rivals) what distinguished Cino was not just his “engine” (i.e. his natural physical capabilities) but his mental aptitude and superlative technique.
Articles of the time speak of “maestro di tecnicità ciclistica” (Giuseppe Ambrosini in the Gazzetta della Strada, of an ability to read the race aptly - in the 1938 Giro di Lombardia Cino ousted the much favoured Gino Bartali on the banks of the Vigorelli in a two-man sprint, surprising spectator’s with his precocious guile and ability to put pressure on the great champion – and of his ability to deliver under pressure as was the case at the 1943 Milano – Sanremo where his Bianchi team sacrificed themselves for Cino to lead out the sprint which he duly won.
But perhaps the greatest testament that still remains today of Cino’s great class as an athlete is the 1968 cycling manual “Ciclismo” published by the Italian Olympic Federation and written by Cino Cinelli together with coaches Rimedio and Costa. Translated into English into 1971, it has remained a cult book and almost-bible for generations of research-driven cyclists.
Here we share with you a few favourite objects and images from our archive (including a well-worn copy of Ciclismo) as well as the “golden rules of cycling” that Cino imparted to an impressionable visiting journalist at his country house in Tuscany in 1996.
- Dedicate yourself to the bicycle entirely and completely.
- Learn to know yourself, organically, because we’re all different.
- Believe in yourself. Up until I was 20 I didn’t think I could become a cyclist. Then I realized that I was able to make certain sacrifices.
- Honey. I bought it solid from a friend. I would put it in pieces of waxed paper and I ate it about 40-50km from the finish. It helped me.
- Wooden head”: a special concoction prepared for me by my mechanic made up of 50g of sugar, juice of 3-4 pressed lemons, 5 espressos and water to fill up the rest of the bidon. It made my mouth dry up but in the finale of the race it made the difference.