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Many will wonder, but who was Federico Momo? He was a great champion of track racing of the earliest times, when racing meant adventure, and road races were not yet famous, and the idols of cycling were pure speed athletes. Momo was one of the most popular, characteristic and adventurous. It was from the times of the Buni, the Tommaselli, the Pasta, the Pontecchi, the Singrossi, the Pasini.
Born in Voghera, his city saw him as the first of the sporting heroes. At that time the cyclists were considered as phenomena, men out of reality, and on the very few tracks the most elegant crowds flocked because the velodromes races represented a party of sought-after worldliness.
In Milan, at the Arco della Pace, they had built the Milanese cycle track with a 333 meter wooden track. By imitating the Parisian organizers who had set up the “Paris Bracelet” in 1895 on the concrete track of the Seine, a victory that gave its holder the large sum of twenty francs a day, the organizers of Milan created, in 1896, the “Milano bracelet” , with the prize of 10 liras a day. The first winner was Singrossi. But here Momo, the eighteen year old boy from Voghera, challenges Singrossi. The boy wins! Thus begins his ascent. Tommaselli challenges Momo. Momo also wins with Tomaselli. Then no one dares to challenge the ‘bad boy’ of Voghera. So Momo holds the bracelet for the whole of 1896 with the relative daily allowance of 10 lire, with which, in those days, a banquet for ten people could be offered. In 1897 the second bracelet. Momo wins again against Singrossi and Pasini. In the last challenge against Pasini, Momo covers the last two hundred meters with the formidable time of 11” 3/5.
His life was an adventure. He also left for Russia. Wonderful stories are told about him. It seems that after the inevitable victories against the strongest sprinters of Europe, great sleds awaited our hero at the gates of the magnificent winter velodrome of Moscow and Petesbourg, with beautiful women full of furs and jewels.
Then, for him, the “Gazzetta dello Sport” newspaper launched a subscription for a medal of honor that collected the formidable sum of 732 lire. What happened? It happened that Momo had won the G.P. of Paris surpassing the French Jacquelin in the last few meters as was also shown by the photographs that in those days unfortunately came out late. But the judge of arrival, influenced by the screams that came from the “popular” tribunes that had seen their favorite come first on the straight, assigned the victory to Jacquelin.
Momo left the bike and, like many other riders, passed to motorbike racing and then to motor racing, as a pilot and builder of the “Junior”. He then contributed to the construction of the Monza racetrack and closed his sports career as president of the UVI (Unione Velocipedistica Italiana).
From an article of Emilio De Martino and Armando Cougnet, Sport Iluustrato 1958