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Last night I was sad to hear about the passing of Dr. Aldo Sassi. I had something else to post today but I wouldn’t feel right about not paying tribute to one of the highest regarded cycling coaches who ever lived.
Dr. Sassi had a very strong influence on many Australian cyclists because of the relationship between Mapei Sports Center and the AIS. He had coached the likes of Cadel Evans, Mick Rogers, Allen Davis, Matt Lloyd, Will Walker, and others.
I had always been intrigued by Dr Sassi because he was always spoken of so highly. He was a strong anti-doping advocate and we had the pleasure of listening to him speak at the New Pathways To Pro Cycling conference during the World Championships in Geelong. He had some profound perspectives about doping that went far beyond anyone else in that room.
I don’t pretend to have known Dr Sassi personally but I had the privilege of interviewing him back in October. The interview lasted an hour and surprisingly he invited me to sit and have breakfast with his family and colleagues afterwards. I sat there in awe of my company. It was one of the highlights of my life. Another realisation of the doors that have opened to me through curating this simple blog.
Matt Keenan wrote a good article on Dr Sassi’s decision to help coach and mentor Ricardo Ricco. I think Matt’s words sum up the character of Dr Sassi quite nicely:
Quite simply Sassi fears that if someone doesn’t help Ricco get on the right track he’ll end up another Marco Pantani. Tragically dead before his time.
Sassi was also the one who convinced Walker to end his racing career, due to the heart condition that was putting his life at risk.
The renowned Italian doctor persuaded Walker that there is more to life than riding a bike so continuing to race just wouldn’t be worth the risk.
In complete contrast, Sassi helping Ricco to race may save Ricco, from himself.
My condolences to all of his family, friends and athletes. There’s no doubt that he had a huge impact on this world he left behind. He’ll be fondly remembered for his contributions to the sport of cycling.