So here he is, our number one in the lowdown of the top 10 Slow Champions:
Luigi Malabrocca - King of the Slow Cyclists
Born in 1920, Malabrocca, an Italian cyclist, won the maglia nera (the black jersey awarded to the last placed rider) in the Giro d’Italia not once but twice! Such was his determination to win the corsa all’ultimo posto (the race for last place) that he would regularly stop and fake a puncture, take an aperitif at the bar, change his wheels and even stop to eat lunch with his many fans. His ‘wins’ took place in 1946 and 1947, and he would have won a third title in 1949 had the race officials not gone home after getting bored waiting for him.
There are those who may suggest that Malabrocca had simply found a good wheeze – he became a celebrity and received a lot of money; he didn’t have to race too hard, appeared in films and was once randomly given a sheep (which he immediately handed over to the hotel’s chef) – but we like to think of him as an innovator and an athlete way ahead of his time.
The black jersey was abolished in 1951 for its negative connotations, but it does live on in the hearts and minds of those who appreciate a good Slow Cycle, and is still recognised among the cycling elite. Currently, the last place rider of the Giro d’Italia is presented with a plate of his backnumber in white on a black background; a subtle nod in recognition of the race for last place.
We look forward to meeting a few more Slow Champions in London Fields this Sunday, and can’t wait to see you all battling it out in the race for last place.