Cycling and coffee often seem to go together; but what about politics and cycling?
First here’s a bizarre brew of Colombian cycling and Italian politics. Then there’s a more general look at those who have tried to swap pedal power for political power.
Claudio Corti’s successes have bookended his career as a pro rider. Before turning pro he was junior world champion and when retiring he became a team manager and won the Giro d’Italia and plenty more from behind the wheel of the team car with Chateau d’Ax, Gatorade, Polti, Saeco, Lampre and the Barloworld. After a break he’s returned with the Colombia-Coldeportes team, you might remember the recent win of Darwin Atapuma on the Passo Pordoi stage of the Giro dell Trentino.
But Corti has ambitions beyond cycling. He wants to become mayor of Curno, a small town of about 7,000 near Bergamo in northern Italy. He’s standing for Lega Nord, the “Northern League”. It’s a populist party that wants the north of Italy to cut ties with the south. You can find more on the ideology on Wikipedia.
Corti’s hit on the idea of coffee (pictured above) to voters. “A pack of coffee for every family” as a way to hook voters says local news site BergamoNews.it and note the corri con me slogan on the packet which means “run with me”… but also race with me, Corti is playing on his cycling management skills as part of the electoral appeal. It’s unknown if this is café de Colombia nor whether the gimmick will work with local voters.
Corti is the latest name in pro cycling to go into politics. Here’s a list and thanks to those on Twitter who helped me expand the list.
- Giro d’Italia winner Gianni Bugno stood for election with the Parti Democratico but it didn’t work.
- The same for José Antonio Pecharromán, who flourished for a brief moment in the 2003 cycling season before vanishing but didn’t get elected either.
- Things went better for Miguel Ángel Martín Perdiguero who is a town councillor in a Spanish suburb after being a mountain specialist in the decade ago.
- Flemish talent Edwin Van Hooydonck, winner of the Tour of Flanders in 1989 and 1991 quit cycling early and in time became a local politician in Flanders.
- Former pro Jean Marie Leblanc, more famous as the Tour de France organiser for some time, is now a local councillor in Northern France.
- Paolo Savoldelli won the Giro and Il Falco, “The Falcon” was famed for his descending skills but his political career went downhill too five years ago after losing his bid for election with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
- Tom Steels sprinted to electoral success in 2006 as town councillor in Sint-Niklaas in Flanders.
- Paris-Roubaix winner Duclos-Lassalle joined a French political party called “Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Traditions” and stood for election in 1994 but I don’t think it worked out.
- Franceso Moser (another winner in Roubaix) was called “The Sheriff” long before he dabbled in politics.
- Colombian mountain ace Fabio Parra didn’t climb into the Senate in Colombian elections in 2010.
- Sir Hubert Opperman was an Australian who went to Europe long before Phil Anderson or Allan Peiper bought their single tickets and he was elected to parliament in 1949. He’s someone who lived a very full life.
- Meanwhile in East Germany Gustav-Adolf Schur was a top cyclist who joined the Volkskammer in 1959.
- Further east and former Paris-Roubaix winner Andrei Tchmil was appointed Minister of Sport in Moldova in 2006.
- And we cannot forget Alexander Vinokourov was on the winning list of candidates during the last round of elections in Kazakhstan but he’s yet to take up his democratic duties.
There seem to be several ex-Paris-Roubaix winners there. I don’t know if the pavé helps them for the rough and tumble of politics. But out of thousands of cyclists it’s entirely normal that a few go on to become politicians, especially since they might have a head start thanks to their celebrity.