Giuseppe Ferrara: The man who brought the 2003 Road World Championships to Hamilton
know that at the age of 13 he was given a racing bicycle.
It happened in the Italian Riviera town of Finale Ligure. Ferrara was born and raised there, one of four children of a bricklayer father and his wife. (Finale Ligure, by the way, is on the route of the Milan-San Remo race. "I never missed it," Ferrara says.)
A local racing club selected Ferrara and several others boys, gave them bikes and racing clothing.
"It changed me. To earn that bike and those clothes I had to train. I learned dedication and commitment. It got so that I had two families during a formative part of my life -- my cycling family -- the coach, my cycling buddies -- and my own family."
"I was very busy. I had to choose between having a good time and training. I chose. During school it was very difficult to train. I'd get up in the dark, feed myself, go out for a training ride, and then come back in time to go to school."
At 15 Ferrara decided he wanted a new bicycle, one fitted exactly to his size and specifications. He went to a local frame-builder who would put together a bike for him -- for 145,000 lire.
"That's about 140 Canadian dollars," he says. "I had to get a job."
And so he did, as a bar tender during his summer holidays. "I didn't have quite enough from my wages so I had to earn tips. I learned how to smile while serving coffee."
He got the bike, a shining red Pelosi, with Columbus tubing, aluminium alloy rims, and Campy components.
A couple of years later, after more than 60 races (in which he was victorious seven times), Ferrara had reached the highest level of amateur racing in Italy. His next step was to turn professional . . . or go to university.
"I went to university. It was difficult. The day I quit racing I sold my bike, everything" he says. "I didn't want to see it anymore. I wanted to black cycling out."
Ferrara graduated as a mechanical engineer from the University of Genoa in 1980. What to do?
Logically ... get a job. But no. Ferrara's old flame reasserted herself. He decided to open a bicycle store. Not just any bicycle store. He wouldn't content himself with selling other people's bikes. He'd make his own frames, custom-made for each customer.
Not necessarily a formula for instant success given Ferrara had to charge the Italian equivalent of about $1,500 for each bike.
However, in three years (this was in the early 80's) his store was doing $1 million a year.
Professional racing teams bought his bikes, the Martini and Rossi (vermouth, etc.) family in Geneva wanted Ferrara bikes for its senior staff. He was exporting Ferrara frames
Just as he was achieving financial independence, Canada