I am a product of a very cynical age.
There was a time I had professional cycling idols. Heck, like many of a certain age, I got into this sport in the first place because of Greg LeMond. That momentum carried into the Lance years, where I went through my yellow-bracelet groupie phase like everyone else.
But anymore, as the sport degenerates into a contest of who can piss the cleanest B-sample, I've given up on looking up to people who pedal for pay. That is, until I read this article about Gino Bartali.
Now, I'm not dumb enough to deify the greats of another age as some kind of pure expression of sport. For all I know, Gino's B-sample may have made Floyd Landis look like a Mormon missionary. But using a 380 kilometer (sheesh, that's 236 miles!) "training ride" to deliver counterfeit papers (stuffed inside your bike) to Jewish refugees during World War II? Knowing every time that being discovered with those papers could get you shot on the spot? Being credited for saving 800 lives? That's hero-worship worthy.
"Some medals are pinned to your soul, not to your jacket." Thanks, Gino. And shalom.