ROME (JTA) – Italian and Israeli cyclists are paying tribute this week to Gino Bartali, an Italian cycling champion who saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust and in 2013 was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations.
Bartali, who died in 2000, smuggled in his bicycle frame Resistance messages and false documents for Jews when riding through central Italy, supposedly as part of his training schedule.
On Tuesday, members of the Israel Cycling Academy, Israeli’s first professional cycling team, for the second consecutive year retraced one of Bartali’s routes – the 190 kilometers, or nearly 120 miles, from Florence to Assisi. The previous day they joined city officials and Jewish representatives at a commemorative ceremony in Florence.
Italy’s annual Giro d’Italia cycling race, which marks its 100th edition this year, will start the day’s ride on Wednesday from in front of a cycling museum dedicated to Bartali in his birthplace, Ponte a Ema, on the outskirts of Florence.
Bartali was a three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia, one of cycling’s Grand Tour races, following a route in stages around the country.