With 123 race victories and 15 titles in bike racing, alongside 10 Tourist Trophy wins and countless other successes, Giacomo Agostini is universally recognised as the best bike rider of all time. He retired from competition in 1980, but no other rider has come anywhere close to equalling the Italian’s enviable record in 40 years of trying.
‘Ago’, as he was known by everyone, was the protagonist of some of the greatest battles in bike racing history: both within the 350cc and 500cc classes. In the years during which he was riding alongside legends such as Mike Hailwood, motorbike racing became a true sporting phenomenon that took the world by storm.
Between 1968 and 1972, Agostini was practically unbeatable: winning 82 of the 102 grands prix that he contested between the two classes he competed in. Unbelievably, he didn’t lose a single race between 1968 and 1970.
The partnership between Agostini and MV Agusta remains the most celebrated and iconic pairing in the history of motorcycling, thanks to 13 world championships, 10 Tourist Trophies and 18 Italian titles. From 1974 onwards Agostini went on to win another two world titles (as well as other prestigious races such as the Daytona 200) riding for Yamaha. It was the perfect response to anyone who believed that the Italian’s success was solely down to the superiority of his machinery.
More than just another rider, Agostini was a true Italian icon: athletic, good-looking and with genuine charisma. But he still had his jealous detractors. There were some who claimed that his victories were often down to a lack of real rivals, or simply having a better bike. Yet Agostini’s legend was not exclusively down to his success.