News ID: 267836
Published: 0654 GMT April 18, 2020

Pro cyclist in Italy uses his bike to deliver medicine

Pro cyclist in Italy uses his bike to deliver medicine
LUCA BRUNO/AP

There are no fans lining the road. No teammates providing support. And there is no race to win.

Professional cyclist Davide Martinelli has achieved a moral victory, though, by using his bike to help deliver medicine to elderly residents and others in need during the coronavirus pandemic, AP reported.

The service is of great use in Lodetto, Martinelli's hometown in the hard-hit Lombardy region of northern Italy. The village has neither a pharmacy nor a supermarket.

Martinelli makes a daily trip to Rovato, the next town over, to pick up supplies.

Ive got a bike and two legs in pretty good form, so riding 10 kilometers (6 miles) a day is no big deal,” Martinelli said in an interview this week. I wanted to help the people who always support me during the season. Its time to give back to them.”

Martinelli joined up with a Facebook group called ‘Lodetto Solidale’ (Supporting Lodetto) where those in need can place their requests online, by phone or message.

Martinelli receives his orders each night and maps out a route for the following day.

I go to the pharmacy and when I arrive outside I put on gloves and a mask,” he said. "If I go for three or four people, theres less risk of contagion.”

With a population of 1,500, everyone in Lodetto knows who Martinelli is. Or rather, they know who Martinellis father is.

Thats because Giuseppe Martinelli is one of the most successful team directors in cycling, having guided the likes of Marco Pantani and Vincenzo Nibali to Tour de France victories and a handful of riders to Giro dItalia wins.

The elder Martinelli said that what his son is doing now is a step above a victory for one of my athletes, because its gratifying to him and to us because he is part of our family.”

Davide Martinelli is also part of Giuseppe Martinellis Astana team — the squad that Lance Armstrong rode for in 2009 when he came out of retirement.

Still, Giuseppe Martinelli said he had nothing to do with his sons initiative besides offering fatherly advice: I just said, Be careful. Be safe. Dont touch anyone. Use a mask and gloves when you enter the pharmacy.’”

At 26, Davide Martinelli likely still has his best racing years ahead of him. So far in his career, he has won only two stages in minor races — both in 2016. This initiative has brought him more recognition than anything else hes done on his bike.

While professional athletes were at first allowed out to train during the nationwide lockdown in Italy, the government ordered them to remain home, too, after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021.

But dont think for an instant that theres some sort of training strategy behind all of this,” Giuseppe Martinelli said of his sons initiative. Eight out of 10 times he goes out with normal running shoes and his mountain bike. So were talking about 30-40 minutes twice a day and sometimes only once per day.”

Thats hardly even a warm-up for pro cyclists, who often ride more than five hours per day.

I wont deny that having the chance to be out in the fresh air helps me relax,” Davide Martinelli said. Sure, theres a risk of contagion when I enter the pharmacy, but you cant dwell on that. When you decide to do something youve got to do it without over-thinking it.” 

 
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