Gimondi grew up cycling with his mother, a postal carrier who rode a bicycle to make her deliveries. In 1964 Gimondi rode the road race at the 1964 Olympic Games, where he finished in 33rd place. After winning the amateur version of the Tour de France (Tour de l'Avenir), he was signed, in 1965, as a professional to the Salvarani team. With the withdrawal of another cyclist from Salvarani's Tour de France team, Gimondi was added at the last minute and went on to win the tour, becoming an Italian national hero.
In the Giro d'Italia, Gimondi holds the record for the most podium finishes: nine total, consisting of three first place wins, two second-place finishes and four third-place finishes. He is currently associated with the Bianchi bicycle manufacturer.
He failed twice to pass doping controls, first in 1968 Giro and second in 1975 Tour.
A major cyclosportive event is named in his honour, the Gran Fondo Felice Gimondi, held annually around Bergamo. Likewise Bianchi have named one of their high level framesets after him the "FG Lite".
Currently, Gimondi is president of the TX Active – Bianchi cycling team, specialized in MTB races.