Francesco Moser - The Sheriff



With a fifteen-year career as a professional between the 70s and the 80s and 273 victories, Moser is the most successful Italian cyclist, followed by his biggest rival, Giuseppe Saronni (193 wins), and Mario Cipollini (189).
He is also the third-best rider in the world, after Eddy Merckx (426 road victories) and Rik Van Looy (379).
Unbeatable in one-day races, Moser has won all the national and international classics, and worn the most prestigious stage race jerseys.
His determination and ability to manage the team earned him the nickname The Sheriff.

The beginning

1951 - Francesco Moser was born in Palù di Giovo, a small town near Trento, in a family with a burning passion for cycling. Three of his twelve brothers, Enzo, Aldo and Diego, were professional cyclists.
As a teenager, Moser worked in the fields near home and started racing when he was already eighteen years old. But thanks to his extraordinary talent he immediately began to win.
As an amateur, he raced for the Tuscan team Bottegone, winning 44 races, including the Giro d'Italia amateur, and an amateur national championship. He also took part in the 1972 Munich Olympics, finishing eighth in the online race and ninth in the team time trial.

1973 - Moser went pro and joined the Filotex team of Waldemaro Bartolozzi with his brother Enzo, immediately winning a stage of the Giro d'Italia, in Florence.

1974 - Other successes in the Italian classics, Giro del Piemonte and Giro dell'Emilia, and also in Paris-Tours.

1975 - The first victory at the highest levels. At 24 years old Moser won first the Giro di Lombardia, then the Italian championship in Pescara, winning the Trofeo Matteotti. This was also the only year he participated in the Tour de France, where he finished seventh in the general classification with two-stage victories: the prologue of Charleroi and the stage of Angoulême. In the first stage of the race, Moser’s constant attacks put in trouble the great Eddy Merckx, who failed to win the Tour and was beaten by Bernard Thevenet.
During the Tour Moser won the youth classification and wore the yellow jersey for seven days.

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1976- 1980: The successes continue, from the Road World Championship to the three Roubaix

1976 - Moser achieved the first of six victories in nine years at the Six Days of Milan (Milan in '76 and '81 with Patrick Sercu, '78 and '79 with René Pijnen; in Grenoble in '77 and '79 with René Pijnen and in Dortmund in '78 again with René Pijnen).
Moser wore a new jersey, the Sanson, but was still directed by Bartolozzi. During the Giro d'Italia, he won three stages and wore the pink jersey for one day after the time trial in Ostuni. Then he won the first of three consecutive mauve jerseys and finished fourth in the general race.
That same year, still in Ostuni, he finished second after Freddy Maerten, but he still managed to win the world title in the track chase race held in the velodrome of Monteroni in Lecce.

1977 - Moser won the Freccia Vallone and wore the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia for thirteen days, but he didn't win. He finished the race second behind Michel Pollentier, who overtook him in the stage of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
In September, in San Cristòbal, Venezuela, Moser became road world champion by beating the West German Dietrich Thurau in an exciting two-man sprint.

1978 - After his epic world championship victory, Moser's success did not stop. On the contrary. The champion scored 39 victories including the first of his three consecutive Paris-Roubaix wins. In this race, he beat specialists Roger De Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens and Jan Raas.
The same year, he finished third at the Giro d'Italia after winning four stages of the race, and the third mauve jersey. At the World Championship, he finished second, beaten by Gerrie Knetemann. However, Moser still managed to win the Volta Ciclistica a Catalunya and his second Giro di Lombardia.

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1979 - Moser won his second Paris-Roubaix and became the first Italian rider to win the Gand-Wevelgem classic. At the Giro d'Italia, he won three stages and wore the pink jersey for eight days, finishing second after his great rival Saronni in the San Marino time trial.
He became Italian road champion for the second time, and at the World Track Championships in Amsterdam, he was beaten in the pursuit final by Bert Oosterbosch.

1980 - Third Paris-Roubaix won.

1984: Best performance on the hour in Mexico City and the Giro d'Italia

Moser was 33 years old when he challenged the hour record, which belonged to Eddy Merckx and had never been broken for twelve years. Many believed that Moser was too old for such a challenge, but the champion always had a great determination and a fighting personality that made him test himself to the limit.
He trained even harder from the year before, strictly following the guidelines of the medical team. He underwent several tests and made a trip to Mexico City to study the track.
On 9 January 1984 Moser set a new record of 50.808 km, bringing it four days later to 51.151 km. But to do so he had used a revolutionary type of bicycle with full wheels, called lenticular wheels. For this reason, Moser's records were cancelled by the International Cycling Union in 2000. It was established that lenticular wheels gave cyclists too much advantage over traditional ones.
For this reason, the term "Best performance on the hour" was introduced instead of "Record on the hour", which referred to regulatory bikes.
That year Moser also won the Milano-Sanremo and with the new bike, he managed to win the last time trial stage of the Giro d'Italia.

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The 90s and the retreat
Moser held his last race in 1987, but in 1994 he tried again to set the hour record that had been broken by other riders. He didn't succeed, partly because of the wind in Mexico City; however, he achieved the second-best performance ever. An exceptional result for a 42-year-old cyclist. Until the last moment, the Sheriff was able to amaze the world.
Since 1988, Moser has been dedicated to wine production, like his father. But he still remains very attached to the world of cycling, collaborating with the sports magazine "La Gazzetta Dello Sport", and with an activity linked to the production of high-quality bicycles.

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(1) Francesco Moser at Trofeo Matteotti (1978)
(2) Francesco Moser  at the Amstel Gold Race (1978)
(3) Francesco Moser in Mexico City (1984)
(4) Francesco Moser 2017

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1 comment

  • Rachel Pousson

    One of my favorites since I was a teenager, this guy was pure class and a piece of fire on the road. (Well, on the track, too!) I did not know he was in the Tour de France only one time (but won two stages). Whenever I think of the golden age of cycling, Moser comes to mind immediately. A friend’s husband owns a restaurant in NYC where I live, and she said the GREATEST Italian cyclist had walked in one day, and her husband had immediately recognized him and greeted him by name. She asked me, “who would that cyclist have been?” I said, “Francesco Moser!” She checked and I was right. Here he was, not a kilometer from me: I wish I would have known, to come and say “hello” and “thank you for your magnificent career!”

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