IL CAMPONISSIMO was Sublime
Torrential rain greeted the riders as the starter's flag dropped in St. Denis. All eyes were on Italian Fausto Coppi. The previous year's race was remembered for the controversial finish (a tie between Serse Coppi and Andre Mahe) and Fausto's role in the affair was soundly criticized in the press. Coppi was here to prove a point.
The Campionissimo was on his game and punished the peloton approaching the hill at Doullens. The lead group began to split under his pressure and through the feed zone in Arras with 50 km to the finish Gino Sciardis and Frenchman Maurice Diot broke away. Coppi made the bridge to the breakaway after a 5 km chase.
Diot's team manager Antoine Magne ordered him to stop working with Coppi. An angry Italian accelerated into a strong headwind with 45 km to go and dropped both Diot and Sciardis. An elite group formed and continued the chase but Coppi was gone. Fausto Coppi crossed the finish line in the Velodrome to claim his first Paris-Roubaix victory.
Legendary French journalist Pierre Chany eloquently wrote in l'Equipe the following day:
"For 20 years I have watched the greatest champions break themselves here like ships on a reef. I have seen riders with the most graceful pedaling action reduced to mere tool grinding...but yesterday against elite roadmen of his era... Fausto was sublime ."
P-R April 9, 1950
247 Km, St. Denis (north of Paris) to Roubaix (Velodrome)
Fausto COPPI (Ita) 6h18'48”
Maurice Diot (Fra) +2'41”
Fiorenzo Magni (Ita) +5'24”
Average Speed: 39.123 km/h
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