Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Legend Of Zippicelli

Saw this at ZLOG and some parts of the story actually made LOL:

"Born in Autodromo, Italy in 1900, Valentino Spedici Zippicelli was a revolutionary in the sport of cycling in beginning with his first use of balsa wood rims to replace much heavier beech or pear wood rims then popular at the time. He followed this up with the use of large balsa wood lug gussets that allowed his bicycles to be built more than one kilogram lighter than others of the era and later allowed for the first aerodynamic shaping of bicycle frames.

Zippicelli went on to dominate mountain stages of local races and ultimately dominate the 1929 Tour de France with his groundbreaking 110mm deep balsa wood rim, made by laminating balsa wood with epoxy resin, which had been invented only two years earlier in the America.

However, this advance in technology triggered a firestorm of controversy during the 1929 Tour after Zippicelli gained over one hour on his rivals during the 366km stage from Perpignan to Marseille. The final straw was Zippicelli's shattering of the hour record during the weeks following the Tour, where he used his super wheels to break the record in only 52 minutes, stopping along the way for a glass of wine.

Not only limited to the Tour de France, Zippicelli's embrace of technological advancement was not shared by governing body of cycling, the ICU, and Zippicelli was stripped of all his 1929 victories and erased from the history books in an attempt to keep cycling ‘pure'.

Zippicelli fled to the US in 1930, settling in Speedway Indiana where he designed and constructed race cars into the late 1980's. In 1989 he founded Zipp Speed Weaponry to bring his auto racing and carbon fiber knowledge into cycling, creating the first full carbon fiber disc wheel, first 3 spoke wheel, and ultimately triggered the 'Superbike' era with his creation of the Zipp 2001 beam bike.

Zippicelli died of a broken heart in 1998 after his bike was again banned from competition in road racing, and was buried at the Speedway, where he continues to turn a steady 90 rpm in his grave to this day."

Published originally on April 1st on 




Anonymous said...

That's such an awesome article.

Jussi said...

I really wish the legend was actually true... ;)