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Italian coach Aldo Sassi, counselor to Moser and Basso, dies at 51

Aldo Sassi, founder of the Mapei Cycling center and renowned Italian cycling coach, died Sunday night after a long struggle with a brain tumor. He was 51.

Aldo Sassi, founder of the Mapei Cycling center and renowned Italian cycling coach, died Sunday night after a long struggle with a brain tumor. He was 51.

Sassi earned fame after helping Francesco Moser prepare for a run at the world hour record in 1984 and later worked closely with Mapei during its heyday in the 1990s, aiding such riders as Johan Museeuw, Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini.

He later became an avowed anti-doping trainer and worked diligently to help athletes train and race under a transparent preparation program. His later clients included former world champion Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso, who renounced his illicit past and worked openly with Sassi to eventually win the 2010 Giro d’Italia.

He opened the Mapei Cycling Center with the backing of Mapei boss Giorgio Squinzi in 1996 to help with the training of team cyclists. The center continued operation following the exit of Mapei as a title sponsor, drawing in other athletes such as soccer players and Formula 1 drivers.

Sassi revealed that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in April. Despite his condition, he continued working until his final days, including making the controversial decision to help Riccardo Riccò following Riccò’s return from a doping ban.