Richard Long's Portraits of Cycling Greats

While Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Geraint Thomas set off for the first day of the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia today, it seems apposite to look back on some of the great winners of this beautiful Grand Tour. Artist Richard Long has created a series of portraits of legendary cyclists from days gone by to help us do just that.

Influenced by vintage posters of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s and illustrators like René Gruau, Richard’s portraits capture an essence of the glamour, glory and heroism of these cycling greats from another era. Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali and Jacques Anquetil are just the first of a series of  prints that he is working on at the moment. We caught up with him in his studio/bike shed in a village in the New Forest to find out what inspires him.

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Gino Bartali, The Reluctant War Hero

“Some medals aren’t to be worn on your shirt but on your soul.” (Gino Bartali)

Gino Bartali is best known as one of the greatest Italian riders of all time. He performed the incredible feat of winning the Tour de France twice with a ten year gap in between the years of 1938 and 1948 while Europe and the wider world was torn apart by the ravages of war. Like many cyclists from that period, he was unable to make the most of his prime years. That didn’t stop him accruing the most impressive palmarés that includes, as well as those two Tour de France victories, three Giro d’Italia, three Lombardia and four Milan – San Remo titles. He is regarded as one of Italy’s greatest sporting heroes as a result.

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