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Cycling community mourns passing of mentor, benefactor Mengoni

Fred Mengoni, who was a longtime mentor and benefactor to the North American cycling community, passed away Friday at the age of 94.

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The North American cycling community mourns the passing of longtime mentor and benefactor to cyclists Fred Mengoni. The Italian-American died February 2. He was 94.

His love for cycling extended across decades, and was instrumental in kick-starting careers of several top-level pros as well as provided early funding for what eventually became USA Cycling. He was admitted to the U.S Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1994.

George Hincapie, who received early backing from Mengoni, wrote on Twitter: “Thank you for all you did for me, cycling in NY and in the USA. You will be missed.”

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Condolences ranged from former riders such as Steve Bauer to former Giro d’Italia director Angelo Zomegnan.

Mengoni was an enthusiastic cycling fan and benefactor whose influence reached across oceans and generations. He helped nurture careers from such riders as Bauer and Hincapie to Greg LeMond and Doug Shapiro.

Mengoni was born in 1923, and moved to the United States from Osimo near Ancona on Italy’s Adriatic coast in the 1950s. According to an interview with The New York Times in 1997, he bought a “one-way ticket so I couldn’t go back.” After working several jobs, he borrowed money to buy and renovate a building. After turning a quick profit of $90,000, he began investing in New York real estate in the 1960s. His company grew to hold more than 300 rental units across the city and in other areas of the United States and Europe.

As his real estate business grew, Mengoni rediscovered his love of cycling, and soon became a fixture in the New York City bike scene. He began riding pre-work morning laps in Central Park and remained active in cycling well into his 90s.

His lasting impact is measured across generations. He backed the GS Mengoni team in the 1980s, which helped such riders as Steve Bauer, Leonard Nitz and Doug Shapiro, among others, start their racing careers. Mengoni was also an early backer of Greg LeMond, and the pair remained friends for life. The 1990s version of the team was key to starting the careers of George Hincapie and Mike McCarthy among others in the New York City racing scene.

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Mengoni’s reach returned back to Italy, where he was a frequent visitor to the Giro d’Italia and top international events in his native country. A race named after him — GP Fred Mengoni — was held from 2002 to 2008, with such riders as Danilo Di Luca and Damiano Cunego taking the flowers.

In 2015, Mengoni made local headlines when he was attacked by an unknown assailant in New York’s Upper East Side.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Walter B. Cooke funeral home in New York. Service information is unavailable at this time. Check this site for updates.

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