Federico Bahamontes, the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France, has died at the age of 95, Spanish officials said on Tuesday.
Bahamontes, who earned the nickname “The Eagle of Toledo” after numerous victories in the mountain stages, won the Tour de France in 1959 and was also the first cyclist to complete a ‘career triple’ by winning the ‘King of the Mountains’ classification in all three Grand Tours.
Born in Toledo, he won 11 Grand Tour stages from 1954–1965 and was named the best Tour de France climber of all time in 2013 by French newspaper L’Equipe.
“It is with deep sorrow that we mourn the loss of Federico Martin Bahamontes, the Eagle of Toledo, a benchmark in sport who has taken the name of our city to the very top,” mayor of Toledo Carlos Velazquez said in a statement on social media.
Known as a fiery, eccentric character who was not always popular with rivals, Bahamontes once famously stopped at the top of the Col de Romeyere with broken spokes and had ice cream while waiting for his team car and the main group of riders.
He retired at 37 after a win in Montjuic.
“Adopted son of the city of Toledo, admired and loved, Fede has thrilled us with his extraordinary climbs. His bicycle shop, in our Plaza de la Magdalena, has been a place of pilgrimage for all fans,” Velazquez added.
“We will honour his memory with two days of Official Mourning, as a sign of pain and recognition of all the people of Toledo. Thanks to him, we all won the Tour. Our deepest condolences to his loved ones. May he rest in peace.”
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