Ottavio Bottecchia (San Martino di Colle Umberto 1 August 1894 – Gemona del Friuli 15 June 1927) is a legend of the cycling world, entered in the history for beeing the first Italian athlete who won the Tour de France on 1924, wearing the yellow jersey of the Tour from the first to the last stage. Ottavio Bottecchia was able to crown a magnificent sporting carrier full of successes and goals which brought prestige to the Italian cycling all over the world.
Entered the professionals elite when he was 27 years old, Ottavio became famous thanks to his tenacity and to his great climber’s ability. After working as bricklayer receving a purple heart in the army he decided to follow his great passion and become a professional rider.
On 1923, he arrived fifth at the Giro and won an unexpected second place at the Tour de France, which brought him to win the next two editions of the French tour.
THE HISTORY OF A LEGEND - 18° Tour De France
THE FIRST ITALIAN WHO WON THE TOUR
On June 1924, Ottavio Bottecchia was in perfect conditions and was getting ready to start the first Tour de France stage. The athlete, revelation of the previous edition, surprised all the participants, being the first to cross the finish line since the first stage, winning the desired maillot jaune. That year there was no race, no history for nobody: Bottecchia wore the yellow jersey from the first stage and removed it in Paris, becoming the champion before Frantz and establishing the primate to be the first athlete to wear the yellow jersey from the first to the last stage of the Tour.
“He moves forward, precise as a balance wheel, he seems the only one who doesn’t make any effort bigger than his capacity.
He has sixteen minutes of advantage on the second one. But today he doesn’t sing.”
Le petit Parisien, 3rd July 1924
Being not satisfied, after the absolute triumph of 1924, he won the Tour de France also the following year, on 1925. With the yellow jersey since the first stage, Ottavio got on the top step of the podium also in the 6th, in the 7th and in the last stage of the Tour wearing the maillot from the 9th to the 18th stage. When in Paris, Ottavio arrives winner confirming the first place of the previous year in the general classification, ahead of Lucien Buysse, left behind of 54’20”, and Bartolomeo Aimo (56’17”).
The career and the life of Ottavio Bottecchia finished early, the 15th June 1927 in Gemona del Friuli, near Udine, in a context which is still not clear. A strange accident, probably caused by a still unexplained malaise, struck the 33 years old Ottavio while he was walking the familiar streets where he used to train and still today there are no certainties about it. What is sure is that a great champion died that day.