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27 years ago today, Fabio Casartelli died during the Tour de France

The Italian cyclist was the first rider since Tommy Simpson to perish in the race

Fabio Casartelli at the Tour de France Photo by: Sirotti

On July 18, 1995, Italian cyclist was killed in a crash on the descent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet during the 15th stage of the Tour. Casartelli famously won the 1992 Olympic road race and had just begun his professional cycling career.

The Italian was on the American Motorola team, and was teammates with riders like Lance Armstrong, Steve Bauer and Frankie Andreu. During the stage, he fell on the downhill and his head struck concrete blocks on the side of the road. He suffered severe head injuries and lost consciousness. He was immediately flown by helicopter to the local hospital, but would ultimately lose his life despite the best efforts of doctors.

The following day, the peloton would not race, but instead ride as a group ride. It was the same “funeral procession” type ride that the peloton did back when Tommy Simspon died in 1967.

Three days later, still wearing black armbands for his fallen teammate, Armstrong would win the stage, gesturing to the sky.