Ottavio Bottecchia Photo Gallery
Ottavio Bottecchia (August 1, 1894–June 14, 1927) was the first Italian to win the Tour de France.
Growing up in stifling poverty, Ottavio Bottechia became a mason before joining the Italian army in World War One. He was a member of Bersaglieri Corps, fighting as a cycling soldier. He carried messages and supplies on his bike and earned a medal for engaging the enemy with a machine gun.
After the war he went to France in search of work. There he took up cycle racing and began to have good results. He returned to Italy and in 1923 rode the Giro as an independent rider. His fifth place (46 minutes behind winner Costante Girardengo) made him the highest placed independent.
The next year he took the lead after winning the first stage and held the lead to the end. In 1925 he again won the Tour, though this time he rode more tactically and economically. After that, the winning magic seemed to have left him.
He abandoned the 1926 Tour during a terrible, stormy stage.
He was found murdered on June 3, 1927. His skull was broken, but his bike was a short distance away, undamaged. There are many theories about his death, but no strong evidence points reliably to any explanation.
1923: Highest placed independent rider in the Giro d'Italia, stage one of the Tour de France (finished second overall)
1924: Tour de France with four stage victories, Giro della Provicia Milano (teamed with Costante Girardengo)
1925: Tour de France with four stage victories, Giro della Procincia Milano (teamed with Costante Girardengo), Buenos Aires 6-Day
1926: Stage two of Vuelta al Pais Vasco (finished second overall)
1925-1926: Automoto Hutchinson
Nicknames: The Stonemason from Friuli, Butterfly (because of his big ears)
Ottavio Bottechia in the uniform of the Bersaglieri Ciclisti (cycling soldiers) during World War One.
Bottecchia in 1919
Ottavio Bottecchia photo that spent many decades pinned to the wall of the Mondonico workshop.
Bottechia leads the peloton in stage 15 of the 1923 Tour de France
Ottavio Bottecchia climbs the Izoard in stage 10 of the 1924 Tour de France
Bottecchia wins the 1924 Tour de France
1924 Automoto ad of Bottecchia's 1924 Tour victory
Bottecchia leads Bartolomeo Aymo and Francis Pélissier up the Aubisque in stage 8 of the 1925 Tour de France
Stage 13 of the 1925 Tour de France: Bottecchia on the Izoard
Bottecchia cleans up after stage 18 of the 1925 Tour de France
Bottecchia after winning the 1925 Tour de France
Bottecchia monument in Trasaghis near the Tagliamento river. Johan Jaritz photo.