One woman among men: The incredible story of Alfonsina Strada

Alfonsina Strada made headlines when she entered the 1924 edition of the Giro d’Italia, under the name 'Alfonsin', and the story of her grit and determination to finish against all odds lives on today

Alfonsina Strada during the 35th Giro d'Italia, June 1952.
(Image credit: Alamy)

Enter the name Alfonsina Strada into a search engine and among the results returned will be a music video by the Italian folk-rock group Têtes de Bois. In the video an old lady toils in her dark and cobwebbed bicycle workshop — welding tubing and adjusting handlebars before helping a small boy with a slipped chain. While the old lady works, the small boy’s eyes are drawn to the walls of the workshop where he spies an aged, framed edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport, carrying the headline that gives the song its title: ‘Alfonsina e la bici’. 

“Alfonsina and the bike… one woman among men.” That was the front-page splash the Gazzetta ran on May 14, 1924. Two days previously, Alfonsina Strada had finished the second stage of the Giro d’Italia, 308km from Genoa to Florence, in 56th place. It was then the paper realised it had a story on its hands that could capture the imagination of Italy. 

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