The heart of the former pistard stopped beating at the age of 87. He played several races with Fausto Coppi
UDINE. Friulian and Italian cycling mourns the death of Virginio Pizzali, Olympian and multiple track cycling champion. The heart of the deathglianese pistard, who had been ill for some time, stopped beating on Sunday evening and the news, kept secret to respect the wishes of the family until yesterday’s burial, quickly spread to the two-wheeled environment.
Everyone knows the story of Virginio, now in the Olympus of great athletes, together with fellow footballer Ezio Pascutti, former Bologna center forward, who died in 2017: they are the two sports stars under the tallest bell tower in Italy.
The story of Virginio Pizzali, who raced several times on the track also with Coppi, is closely linked to two controversial episodes of twentieth-century cycling: two falls that characterized the career of the Friulian athlete.
The first, in the qualifying stages for the Melbourne Olympics, in 1956: as a member of the team pursuit quartet (the same in which the Bujese Jonathan Milan recently became Olympic and world champion), he fell and fractured a collarbone, not being able to get back on the bicycle in the following days.
At the Australian games he was replaced by Valentino Gasparella who, together with Faggin, Domenicali and Gandini, the three supersed blues, managed to win gold. A medal that Virginio then tried to ask for in the following decades, with grace and motivation, as it was in his style, without ever succeeding.
The second fall, the second torn jersey, arrived at the 1959 World Championships at the Amsterdam velodrome.
When he already had the victory in the derby in his pocket, the specialty behind the motorcycle, a misunderstanding with the rider Arthur Pasquier, made him fall back to the ground. Epic defeats, but also prestigious victories.
He came to the fore when he was very young in Ragogna, when he left Mortegliano by bicycle to go to the start of the race, which he then won and at the end of which he returned home, still pedaling. Racing for the legendary Dino Doni, he was the protagonist on the road and above all on the track.
He won two Italian titles as an amateur and was four times Italian champion of professionals, always on the track, from 1958 to 1962. He was a successful sports emigrant, living and competing in Paris, in the golden years, when the fans went crazy for the acrobats of the velodromes.
Some of the great feats that made Cavalier Borghi’s Ignis team become legendary are signed by Virginio Pizzali, the one who then also generated the domination of the great Varese basketball in the seventies.
Today, the memory of Pizzali lives on in the Renato Bulfon Ciclismuseo, in the center of Mortegliano, where all the main relics of the pistard are kept. And where the Virginio myth will continue to live.