Bahamontes with the bicycle on which he won the Tour de France in 1959. SUR
Federico Martín Bahamontes, the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France, has died

Federico Martín Bahamontes, the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France, has died

The 'Eagle of Toledo', a pioneer who symbolised the nation's journey towards modernity in the post-war period, died on Tuesday at the age of 95

J. Gómez Peña

Tuesday, 8 August 2023, 23:50


Federico Martín Bahamontes, known as the 'Águila de Toledo' (Eagle of Toledo) in the cycling world, has died at the age of 95.

Bahamontes, a talented climber from Toledo, represented a post-war Spain marked by poverty and, in 1959, became the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France, symbolising the nation's journey towards modernity.

Born in Val de Santo Domingo (Toledo) in 1928, Bahamontes grew up during the Spanish Civil War. His family endured hardships in refugee camps during the conflict. His childhood was marked by scarcity and illness, and he developed a strong determination to survive.

Bahamontes eventually took up cycling as a way to transport goods illegally in the black market. Despite battling illness and deprivation, he continued to pursue cycling in defiance of doctors' orders and quickly excelled in the sport, finding it a way to earn better money.

His main focus was on becoming the King of the Mountains, excelling in the climbing stages of races. However, his goals shifted when Fausto Coppi, a legendary cyclist, offered him a contract to join his Tricolfilina team and encouraged him to aim for victory in the Tour de France.

During the 1959 Tour de France, Bahamontes emerged as a fierce competitor. He strategically attacked in early stages, distancing himself from rivals and asserting his leadership. His exceptional climbing skills and strategic decisions, aided by internal rivalries within the French team, eventually led him to victory. In the end, Bahamontes became the first Spanish cyclist to win the Tour de France, marking a significant achievement for both him and his country.

Bahamontes' triumph symbolised Spain's resilience and progress in the face of hardship, and his legacy continues to be celebrated in the world of cycling and beyond.


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