How many riders have won the Giro d'Italia twice in a row?
You won't be surprised to hear that Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain have done the double. And the fourth member of this elite group is?
You may not have heard of Franco Balmamion but he is that man, and he looked mighty proud to be honoured last night at a swanky London wine bar packed with admirers at the launch of a new biography titled 'The Eagle of the Canavese'.
Balmamion, 68, won the Giro in 1962 and 1963 and the story is brilliantly told by author Herbie Sykes (nope, not heard of him either, this is his first book and he has never written about cycling before - in fact he's only just packed in his job selling Bang and Olufsen hi-fi).
Vin Denson was one of the many admirers of Balmamion who made the trip to the Viva Verde near London Bridge and he was happy to remind us of the many times he had suffered long minutes behind Balmamion on every mountain stage that the two had ridden.
Balmamion, who speaks no English and was helped with the translation by Laura Vai, said that one the saddest moments of his career was being at the Tour when Tom Simpson died in 1967. He finished fourth on the fateful 13th stage and third overall in the 1967 Tour.
'The Eagle of Canavese' is on sale now, £13.95 softback £17.95 hardback, published by Mousehold Press (http://www.mousehold-press.co.uk/detail_Eagle_of_the_Canavese.html) with Sport and Publicity, www.sportandpublicity.co.uk.
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