Raffaele Riva

Raffaele Riva is a former cyclist from Italy. In 1925 he was the sixth man to finish at the Paris-Roubaix cycling race. Raffaele Riva is credited with creating the word “giro,” which means ’round’ in Italian and refers to a cycling tactic of riding around an area, getting ahead of other riders and then jumping off at the finishing line when they are behind you.


He won the gold medal in the 1928 Olympic Games Road time trial. He is considered at one time the fastest cyclist in history; his average speed in a 50 km race was 42.6 km/hour.

Raffaele Riva has won six stages of the Giro d’Italia (1926, 1928, 1929, 1939, 1940 and 1948). The same year (1926), he also finished second in the 1925 Paris–Roubaix – behind René Vietto – and double in the Milan–San Remo.

He is one of only five riders who have won critical Italian classics in three decades. The other four are Costante Girardengo, Giovanni Gerbi, Alfredo Binda and Ercole Baldini.

In 1938 Raffaele Riva won Giro di Lombardia with a decisive breakaway on the final climb to Como – the Passo del Turchino. Amongst his other victories are Milan-San Remo (1925), Giro Della Provincia di Milano (1922), and the first edition of the Coppa Pianegiani (1923).

In the late 1940s, Riva had a road shop in Milan. He was known for riding and racing with a trenchcoat on his handlebars. When he was working at the shop, he died of a sudden heart attack at age 64, near Milano Marittima.

Raffaele Riva has been inducted into the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame and is in the Italian Sports Hall of Fame. His sporting career was depicted in the Italian movie “Lo confidante” (“The Challenger”). Riva is also an honorary member of the “Acquired Brain Injury Association Italy” (Associazione Acquired Brain Injury Italia) and has been inducted into the Italian Sports Writers Hall of Fame. Visit this page on LinkedIn, for related information.

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