Cycling luminaries gathered at the Rossano Cathedral in Italy late last month to celebrate the life of Lino Gastaldello, the president of the Wilier bike brand.
Gastaldello died January 23rd after being hit by a car while on a bike ride. He was 71.
Gianni Bugno, Damiano Cunego and Gilberto Simoni were among the mourners who overfilled the cathedral.
Gastaldello was known and loved not only for helping to reestablish the historic bike brand but as a craftsman and innovator, who loved and supported the sport of cycling and professional racing.
The Wilier Triestina bicycle company dates to 1906. The name Wilier is an acronym for W l’Italia LIberata ERedenta — “Long live Italy, liberated and redeemed;” in 1945 “Triestina” was added to the team name to support the city of Trieste, which was occupied by Germany during World War II, liberated by the Allies and then briefly controlled by Yugoslavia.
Fiorenzo Magni led the team to a Giro d’Italia victory in 1948.
The bike company shut its doors in 1952, but Lino, his brother Antonio and their father Giovanni, bought it and resumed production. According to the company’s history, Wilier Triestina’s big break came in 1979, when it began to supply bikes to the Mecap Hoonved team, which won a Giro stage that year. Over the coming decades the brand has been associated with some of the most successful riders in Italy and the world, including Marco Pantani’s Mercatone Uno team in the late 1990s. Most recently the company has supplied the Lampre team. In 2008 Alessandro Ballan won the world road race championships on a Wilier.
Over ten years ago, Gastaldello handed direction of the company to his sons, but remained president and was active in the company and the sport. He spent most days in the frame shop in a black mechanic’s shirt. He also continued to ride regularly, and last year led a group of local riders at the Gran Fondo of Flanders.
The Gastaldello family is asking that Lino be remembered with donations to the children of Haiti.