Aldo Sassi’s battle with brain cancer ended last night, just after midnight, near his home northern Italy. The trainer for Ivan Basso, Cadel Evans and other cyclists, died at the age of 51.
Sassi was the managing director of the Mapei Sport training centre, where Evans and Basso were his star clients. He helped Basso win his second Giro d’Italia title this May. Evans won a stage and spent a day in the leader’s pink jersey, he also on the one-day classic Flèche Wallonne and wore the Tour de France’s yellow jersey thanks to Sassi.
Sassi also coached Michael Rogers, Charly Wegelius, Matt Lloyd and Dario Cioni. His last challenge, was taking on Riccardo Riccò after he returned from a two-year doping ban.
His history in cycling dates back to 1984. Sassi earned a Masters Sports Science and Research degree and worked on the training staff for Francesco Moser’s hour record ride in Mexico City. From 1999 to 2002, he was the Managing Director at Team Mapei, where he Met Evans and Rogers.
For team Mapei, he created the Mapei training centre in Castellanza in 1996. After being diagnosed with cancer in April, he knew he had very little time left to do what he loved – to help cyclists win races.
“They say you can arrive at a manageable level,” said Sassi in September, “but there is not a way to beat this cancer.”
Doctors diagnosed Sassi after he had been complaining of strong headaches for four days. They immediately removed a tumour the size of two large strawberries. Sassi was left with half-moon incision on the right side of his head and some cancer cells.
“It is still there and it is growing slowly. It is very high grade and highly aggressive.”
It eventually grew out of control and killed him this morning – December 13, 2010 – 51 years after he was born – April 28, 1959. He left behind his wife Marina and children Valentina, Chiara and Marco, and his passion, his work as a trainer.
He wanted to continue his work from the Mapei Centre in Castellanza. In September, refused to talk about how he wanted to be remembered.
“I prefer not to be remembered,” said Sassi, “but to be here and talk with you and the entire cycling world!”