Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gelfi Suicide

Former professional cyclist Luca Gelfi was found dead in his bike shop and is believed to have committed suicide according to La Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday.

The 42-year-old Gelfi, who began his professional career in 1988 and retired in 1998, raced for Del Tongo as well as the Eldor-Viner, Brescialat and Ros Mary-Amica Chips teams. The Italian road racer won two stages in the Giro d'Italia in 1990 and finished second at the Milano Sanremo in 1993. Gelfi reportedly suffered from depression prior to his death.

He leaves behind a wife and child.

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MILANO, 3 gennaio 2009 - Tragedia della depressione a Torre de’ Roveri, nel bergamasco: Luca Gelfi si è tolto la vita, nel suo negozio di biciclette. Aveva 42 anni. Passato pro’ con la Del Tongo nel 1988, Gelfi è stato professionista fino al 1998 raccogliendo 4 vittorie, tra cui due tappe al Giro d’Italia del 1990, quello vinto da Gianni Bugno: la Teramo-Fabriano e la Grinzane-Cuneo (cronometro individuale). Aveva corso, tra le altre squadre, per MG, Eldor, Mapei, Brescialat e Ros Mary: tra i piazzamenti, spicca il secondo posto alla Milano-Sanremo 1993, dietro a Fondriest e davanti a Sciandri.

Conclusa la carriera agonistica, Gelfi era salito in ammiraglia e da anni era il tecnico del Team F.lli Giorgi, una delle più quotate formazioni juniores d'Italia.

Da qualche tempo Gelfi soffriva a causa di una forte depressione e pare che l'ultima telefonata l'abbia fatta proprio a Carlo Giorgi, suo patron e grande amico, che in questo momento si trova in Romania. Gelfi (nella foto con Paolo Sipala) lascia la moglie e un piccolo bimbo.

UPDATED (4 January 2009)

*Gelfi's official team photo card gallery.

*Spare a thought for Gelfi's wife and young son.

*The Gelfi suicide is another tragic example of the sometimes overwhelming challenges that ex-cyclists face in navigating the "Real World," even years after their departure from the rarefied world of elite sport.

*Mental illness doesn't spare the cyclist: Graeme Obree, José María Jiménez, Marco Pantani, Thierry Claveyrolat, Gelfi and many others have all struggled with various conditions - some more successfully than others.

* A Cyclist's Guide to Depression

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