Road to Valor: A Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation

“He had everything to lose. His story is one of the most dramatic examples during World War Two of an Italian willing to risk his own life to save the lives of strangers.” -Oren Jacoby

Gino Bartali was one of the leading cyclists of his era, a three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia, who also notched up two Tour de France victories, 10 years apart, before and after World War II.

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Bartali’s bike on display in the cycling museum in Madonna del Ghisallo Church.

In Road to Valor, Aili and Andres McConnon chronicle Bartali’s journey, from an impoverished childhood in rural Tuscany to his first triumph at the 1938 Tour de France. As World War II ravaged Europe, Bartali undertook dangerous activities to help those being targeted in Italy, including sheltering a family of Jews and smuggling counterfeit identity documents in the frame of his bicycle. After the grueling wartime years, the chain-smoking, Chianti-loving, 34-year-old underdog came back to win the 1948 Tour de France, an exhilarating performance that helped unite his fractured homeland.

Bartali, a devout Catholic, was asked by the Cardinal of Florence, Archbishop Elia Dalla Costa, to join a secret network offering protection and safe passsage to Jews and other endangered people.

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His role in the network was uniquely suited to his talents – he became a courier. On the face of it he was undertaking the long training rides for which he was renowned, but in reality he was carrying photographs and counterfeit identity documents to and from a secret printing press. He travelled thousands of kilometres across Italy, travelling the roads between cities as far apart as Florence, Lucca, Genoa, Assisi, and the Vatican in Rome.

Gino Bartali was posthumously awarded in September of 2013 with the honour Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and education centre in Jerusalem.

Based on nearly ten years of research, Road to Valor is the first book ever written about Bartali in English and the only book written in any language to explore the full scope of Bartali’s wartime work.  An epic tale of courage, resilience, and redemption, it is the untold story of one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.

Road to Valor Book | Buy-Now

Would you risk your life to save a stranger?

The documentary My Italian Secret tells the story of cycling idol Gino Bartali, Dr. Giovanni Borromeo, and other courageous Italians who carried out ingenious schemes to rescue Jews, partisans, and refugees from Nazi-occupied Italy. Celebrated as a Tour De France champion, Gino Bartali’s most daring triumph came when he risked his life to save Italian Jews by smuggling fake identification documents in the frame of his bicycle.

Dr. Borromeo invented a fictitious disease to scare the SS away from the hospital where he was hiding Jews. These men, and the networks in which they worked, reflect the efforts of thousands of Italians who risked their lives to save others.

As an entire continent was engulfed in genocide, more than 80 percent of Italy’s Jews survived. In My Italian Secret, Oscar-nominated director Oren Jacoby reveals the dramatic stories of a secret underground that has remained largely unknown until now.

My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes | Buy-Now

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