26 April 2020
Italian professional cyclist Davide Martinelli is using his bicycle to help deliver medicine during the coronavirus pandemic.
The service helps older people and others in Lodetto, Martinelli's hometown in the Lombardy area of northern Italy. The village does not have a drug store or a supermarket.
Martinelli makes a daily trip to the nearby town of Rovato to get supplies.
He told The Associated Press, "I've got a bike and two legs in pretty good form, so riding 10 kilometers a day is no big deal. I wanted to help the people who always support me during the season. It's time to give back to them."
Martinelli joined a Facebook group called "Lodetto Solidale" where those in need can place their requests online, by phone or message.
Martinelli receives his orders each night and plans out a path for the following day.
He said, "I go to the pharmacy and when I arrive outside I put on gloves and a mask. If I go for three or four people, there's less risk of contagion."
About 1,500 people live in Lodetto. Everyone there knows the Martinelli name very well. Martinelli's father, Giuseppe, is one of the most successful team directors in the sport of cycling. He led teams with riders Marco Pantani and Vincenzo Nibali to win the Tour de France, one of the most well-known bicycling races.
The elder Martinelli said that what his son is doing now is "a step above a victory for one of my athletes, because it's gratifying to him and to us because he's part of our family."
Davide Martinelli is also part of his father's Astana team — the team that American cyclist Lance Armstrong rode for in 2009 when he came out of retirement.
Giuseppe Martinelli said he had nothing to do with his son's desire to provide the service. But he did give his son some advice: "‘Be careful. Be safe. Don't touch anyone. Use a mask and gloves when you enter the pharmacy.'"
Davide Martinelli likely still has his best racing years ahead of him. He is only 26-years-old. So far, he has won only two parts of small races in 2016. The bicycling service has brought him more recognition than anything else he has done on his bicycle.
Professional athletes were at first permitted to train outside during the nationwide lockdown in Italy. But the government has ordered them to remain home, too, after the Tokyo Olympics were delayed until 2021.
Davide Martinelli said, "I won't deny that having the chance to be out in the fresh air helps me relax. Sure, there's a risk of contagion when I enter the pharmacy, but you can't dwell on that. When you decide to do something you've got to do it without over-thinking it."
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Luca Bruno and Andrew Dampf reported on this story for Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in This Story
pharmacy –n. a place in a hospital or a store where people can get dugs and medicine
contagion –n. a disease that can be passed from person to person by touching
gratifying –adj. giving pleasure or satisfaction
relax –v. go become less tense, to ease one's nerves