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Cosimo Centonze, a local manufacturer of smoked sausages, had plastered the approaches to the velodrome at Monteroni, Italy with garish, multicolored posters bearing greetings in four languages. The English version read: "Centonze's sausage factory hopes this date will join the people of the world even in the daily life and make them justier men."
It may well be that Sheila Young and Sue Novara, the two American archrivals for the world sprint-cycling championship, took heed of Centonze's exhortation. Whether they became "justier" is hard to judge, but join together they certainly did in a warm handclasp, riding side by side, victor and vanquished, on the lap of honor.
For two athletes who have had little regard for one another on or off the track, that was effusiveness indeed. A milestone, a historic date, as the sausage manufacturer had anticipated.
It was also historic in the sense that it may have marked Sheila Young's last competitive appearance on a bicycle, in a year that had brought her, in order, three Olympic speed-skating medals (gold, silver and bronze); the world sprint speed-skating championship; the U.S. national sprint-cycling title; a handsome curly-haired, mustachioed husband; and now the world sprint-cycling championship. What more could a girl want?
"That's it," pledged Young before ascending the winner's podium. "I might keep on skating, but if I want a life of my own I've got to give something up, and it's got to be cycling."
Sue Novara ("It's not that Sheila and I aren't on speaking terms, we just don't converse") vanished immediately after her defeat, reappearing 10 minutes later, eyes red and still wet.
"What happened to you, Sue?"
"I got beat...."
The result slightly embarrassed the U.S. squad, which had the problem of simultaneously congratulating Young and commiserating with Novara. And Coach Jack Disney was surprised at the outcome. He had privately been tipping 20-year-old Novara for the title. "She is better equipped to do it," he had said. "She handles her bike better. She has more acceleration. She'll make it if she rides the way I told her to."