Campagnolo began his amateur cycling career in 1922. In 1930, he patented the quick-release skewer that became the standard for the industry, a design still used today. In 1933, the first quick release hubs were produced by Campagnolo. Also in 1933, he patented the sliding hub, dual seatstay rod-operated, back-pedal derailleur ultimately known as the Cambio Corsa. In 1949, he introduced the Gran Sport twin-cable, parallelogram rear derailleur at the Milan trade show, the first modern derailleur. Tullio Campagnolo was one of the greatest legends in bicycle component invention and manufacture. He was born in Vicenza, Italy in 1901 to a middle-class family and began his tinkering of inventions at his father's hardware store. He was an avid cyclist winning many races, such as Giro di Lombardia, Milan-San Remo and several Olympic heats.
While racing through the Italian Dolomites on November 11, 1927 with freezing weather and snow, he lost the race victory due to a wing nut he could not remove to repair his flat tire. The title that Campagnolo sacrificed through the Croce D’ Aune Pass encouraged him to develop the quick release wheel locking mechanism. This quick release skewer, which is in use and famous today, enables a bicycle wheel to be removed and re-attached quickly and was the first of his many inventions from his father’s Vicenza workshop that he is well known for.
Campagnolo was also an innovator in materials engineering for bicycle component design. In 1961, Campagnolo was the first to produce components using low-pressure magnesium casting and he used new aluminum alloys and titanium. In 1966 he patented the Campagnolo self-centering wine-bottle opener.
Campagnolo died in 1983, just after the introduction of the Gruppo del Cinquantenario (50th anniversary Campagnolo groupset). Gruppo Number 0002 was presented to Pope John Paul II in a private audience for a delegation of Italian cycling enthusiasts later that year.
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