Fabio Casartelli

Fabio Casartelli

A plaque on Col de Portet d'Aspet where Fabio Casartelli died
Personal information
Born (1970-08-16)16 August 1970
Como, Italy
Died 18 July 1995(1995-07-18) (aged 24)
Col de Portet d'Aspet, France
Height 186 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 72 kg (159 lb)
Team information
Discipline Road cycling
Role Rider
Major wins
Gold medal, 1992 Olympics Individual road race
Infobox last updated on
22 June 2009

Fabio Casartelli (16 August 1970 18 July 1995) was an Italian cyclist and an Olympic gold medalist who died in a crash on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet, France, during the 15th stage of the 1995 Tour de France.[1]

He was born in Como, Italy.

Amateur career

Fabio Casartelli showed great promise as an amateur. He had many important wins and placings between 1990 and 1992, climaxing in winning a gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics road race. He finished the 194 km race in 4:35:21, a second ahead of Erik Dekker of the Netherlands and 3 ahead of Dainis Ozols of Latvia.

Amateur victories

  • Trofeo Sironi
  • Monte Carlo-Alassio
  • Gemeli Meda
  • Coppa Casale
  • GP Capodarco di Fermo
  • Trofeo Cesab

Professional career

Casartelli began his professional career in 1993 with the Ariostea team. He won a stage in the Settimana Bergamasca race, came second in a stage of the Tour de Suisse and finished the Giro d'Italia. In 1994 he moved to ZG-Mobili. For his third professional year, he moved to Team Motorola. He placed sixth in the Spanish Clásica de Almería and third in the second stage of the Spanish Tour of Murcia. Casartelli was selected to represent his team for the 1995 Tour de France along with Alvaro Mejia, Frankie Andreu, Lance Armstrong, Steve Bauer, Kaspars Ozers, Andrea Peron, Steve Swart and Sean Yates.

Professional results

1993 - Team Ariostea
  • Giro d'Italia: 107th overall
  • Settimana Bergamasca: first stage 1
  • Tour de Suisse: second stage 5, third stage 2
1994 - Team ZG-Mobili Bottecchia
  • Giro di Toscana: 15th overall
1995 - Team Motorola
  • Classica Costa del Almeria: sixth overall
  • Tour de Suisse: second stage 1
  • Tour of Murcia: third stage 7


The monument to Fabio Casartelli

On 18 July, during the fifteenth stage of the 1995 Tour de France, Casartelli and a few other riders crashed on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet in the Pyrenees. Casartelli's head struck the concrete blocks along the roadway, causing severe head injuries and loss of consciousness. Doctors arrived within ten seconds.[2] While being flown to a local hospital by helicopter, Casartelli stopped breathing and after numerous resuscitation attempts he was declared dead. It has been argued that Casartelli would have survived if he had been wearing a bicycle helmet.[3] Gerard Porte, the Tour's senior doctor, claimed that protection was academic since the fatal blow was to an area of Casartelli's head that would not have been covered by a helmet.[3] However Michel Disteldorf, the French doctor who examined Casartelli's body on behalf of the coroner in Tarbes, where the rider was flown by helicopter after he crashed, told the Sunday Times that the point of impact was on the top of the skull, and that had Casartelli been wearing a hard helmet "some injuries could have been avoided".[4]

His Motorola team continued the Tour de France, crossing the finish line of the next stage first, side by side in Pau. The peloton followed behind, riding slowly. The Société du Tour de France awarded the stage prizes as normal, and the riders donated all the money won that day to a fund established for his family. The Tour later matched that amount, and thousands of individuals contributed to the fund.

Three days after the accident Fabio Casartelli's teammate Lance Armstrong dedicated his stage finish to Casartelli by pointing at the sky as he rode over the finish line.[5]

The Société du Tour de France and the Motorola team placed a memorial near where he crashed, situated at co-ordinates 42°56′59.89″N 0°49′7.74″E / 42.9499694°N 0.8188167°E / 42.9499694; 0.8188167 (42.940, 0.819). The memorial is a sundial arranged such that the sun's shadow highlights three dates  his birth and death and 2 August, the day he won his Olympic gold medal. The bicycle he was riding at the time of his fatal crash was placed in the chapel at the Madonna del Ghisallo, a church and museum to cyclists near his home.

In 1997, the young rider classification in the Tour de France was renamed "Souvenir Fabio Casartelli" in his honour.


  1. "Fabio Casartelli Olympic Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  2. Wallechinsky, David (2004). The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics, Toronto: Sport Classic Books. ISBN 1-894963-34-2
  3. 1 2 Majendie, Matt. Tour tragedy 10 years on. BBC.co.uk. 18 July 2005.
  4. Weekes, Richard. The hard truth behind a waste of life. Sunday Times 23 July 1995.
  5. Armstrong, Lance; Sally Jenkins (2001). It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. New York: Penguin Group. p. 289. ISBN 0-399-14611-3.
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