Guillermo Timoner, the first Spanish rainbow, dies | Sports


Federico Bahamontes, who passed away on the 8th, was the Spanish reference in road cycling, and Guillermo Timoner (Felanitx, 97 years old), who died in his homeland just two weeks later, was the undisputed king of the track during those years in which cycling and soccer were the only sports in which Spain excelled internationally. Timoner and Bahamontes made headlines with their feats.

But unlike Bahamontes, and despite being practically from the same farm, Timoner did not go hungry. His first bicycle, which cost him 510 pesetas, was bought after fattening and selling a pig that his father took care of, who cultivated land and raised animals. The hardships of the war passed by Guillermo’s house, who at the age of 15 lied to the pharmacist of his town, who was in charge of issuing the beginner’s licenses. He told her that he was 16, the minimum age to run. By then he had already won his first race in S’Horta. The prize was a chicken. He was running on the road, but he realized that his thing was the track. He had the advantage that there were two velodromes in Mallorca, the one in Campos, near Felanitx, and the one in Tirador, in the center of Palma, where he won his first Balearic championship title in 1941.

Timoner alternated between the two specialties. He won three stages of the Tour of Mallorca, but by then he had already won his first Spanish championship title in Tortosa. He was 18 years old and eleven were missing before he made the leap to international competition. Until 1954 he did not play a World Cup. He went to Wupertal, in Germany, without a coach and finished sixth, but he assured that he learned a lot there for the following years. In 1955, at the historic Vigorelli velodrome in Milan, the scene of Fausto Coppi’s hour record in the middle of the World War, bombed and then set on fire, Guillermo Timoner was proclaimed world champion in the background behind a motorcycle for the first time. At an average speed of 79.865 kilometers per hour, the Mallorcan received his first rainbow jersey, also the first for a Spanish cyclist. Then came 84 more in all disciplines. A newspaper headline from that time said it all about the scarcity of the material with which he hung his first gold medal: “A Quixote on an iron horse.”

Behind a motorcycle, glued to the rear roller to catch the slipstream, in a specialty that has practically disappeared now, Timoner added five more world titles, in 1959 (Amsterdam), 1960 (Leipzig), 1962 (Milan), 1964 (Paris) and 1965, at the Anoeta velodrome in San Sebastián. In addition, he was twice runner-up in the world. He competed between 1941 and 1971, and reappeared in 1984, at the age of 58. He was the coach of Spain on the track and the thorn in him was never having been an Olympic champion. Timoner was a professional and the Games, in his time, were closed to athletes who were paid to practice his trade.

Once retired, Timoner lived out of his sports shop in Felanitx, converted into a museum with his bicycles, jerseys and trophies. Always honored in his town, where there is a street and a sports center named after him, the six-time World Champion, who had been a carpenter in his youth, suffered from Alzheimer’s in his last years, although if his head did not already contain his memories, the collective memory of Spanish sport does not forget them.

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