Legendary Spanish Cyclist Federico Bahamontes Dies

First Spaniard To Win The Tour Dies At 95

Bahamontes pictured in his bike shop in 2005. Credit: Michiel Hendryckx/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Known as the Eagle of Toledo, one of Spain’s most famous sporting sons, Federico Bahamontes, the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France has died today.

Legendary cyclist Federico Martín Bahamontes, born in Santo Domingo-Caudilla, Toledo, in 1928, has died this Tuesday, August 8, 2023, at 95. The mayor of the Castilian-Manchegan capital confirmed the news earlier this morning, writes OK Diario.

Bahamontes was a true pioneer of national sport, being the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France, in its 1959 edition and also claiming the coveted King of the Mountains polka dot jersey six times.

Toledo Pays Its Respects To Bahamontes

The mayor of Toledo, Carlos Velázquez, announced the death of the famous cyclist, who remained lucid and active until the end of his life, on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, in Toledo. ‘With deep regret, we mourn the loss of Federico Martín Bahamontes, the Eagle of Toledo,’ wrote the mayor. He stressed that ‘the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France is part of the history of sport in our country, with more of 74 victories behind them. Adoptive son of Toledo admired and loved, Fede has moved us with his extraordinary climbs.’

Toledo has decreed two days of official mourning ‘as a sign of pain and recognition from all of Toledo. Thanks to him, we all won the Tour.’ The city’s response reflects the deep respect and affection held for Bahamontes, who has left an indelible mark on the cycling world. His contribution to Spanish sport will not soon be forgotten.

Bahamontes’ Legacy

The importance of Bahamontes to Spanish sport cannot be underestimated. One only has to go back to the year 1959, a time when Spain did not  have so many high-level athletes.

During the 1954 Tour de France, Bahamontes was so far ahead of the pack in one of the mountain stages that he stopped at a café and enjoyed an ice cream while waiting for his rivals to catch up. This unconventional and confident act became one of the most iconic moments in cycling history.

In the cycling world he was nicknamed, ‘The Eagle of Toledo,’ a moniker he earned because of his extraordinary climbing ability. He won the King of the Mountains classification in the Tour de France six times, a record at the time, and his aggressive and fearless style on mountain stages made him one of the best climbers in the history of the sport.

Bahamontes’ win in the 1959 Tour de France was a landmark achievement for Spanish cycling. He became the first Spaniard to win the prestigious race, and his victory is often seen as a turning point that put Spain on the global cycling map. His success inspired generations of Spanish cyclists and laid the groundwork for Spain’s future triumphs in the sport.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.