The late Fiorenzo Magni’s brave time trial ride, with fractured collarbone, in the 1956 Giro d’Italia is among the most historic moments of the Italian tour, as voted by the world’s cycling media.
Giro organizer RCS Sport earlier this month undertook an apocalypse-themed poll examining the race’s 103-year history. According to RCS Sport, 100 journalists, including VeloNews contributors, were questioned over the most memorable moments in the race’s history. The results appear here:
1. Which are the most dramatic moments in the history of the Giro d’Italia?
On June 30, 1946, during the 12th stage of the Giro from Rovigo to Trieste, some anti-Italian activists who wanted Trieste to be part of the newly-formed Yugoslavia stopped the Giro 2km east of the village of Pieris, blocking the road with cement blocks and throwing stones and nails at the riders. The Giro organization had already decided to declare the stage end in Pieris and neutralized the general classification for the day, but some of the riders, led by the Trieste-born Giordano Cottur, insisted on riding to Trieste anyway.
2. Which are the three best Giros of all time?
The Giro in 1949 won by Fausto Coppi, the Giro of 1988 won by Andy Hampsten after the epic stage on the snowy Gavia Pass in the storm, and the 1998 Giro d’Italia won by Marco Pantani.
3. Which are the three best stage victories of all time?
The 17th stage of the 1949 Giro d’Italia, from Cuneo to Pinerolo (254km), which had the fantastic solo ride by the “Campionissimo”. Fausto Coppi earned the maglia rosa after going on the attack for 192km, climbing the Col de la Madeleine, the Col du Vars, the Izoard, the Monginevro and the Sestriere alone, finally arriving in Pinerolo with an 11:52 advantage over Gino Bartali and almost 20 minutes on Alfredo Martini.
4. Which champions have best represented the values of the Giro d’Italia?
Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi and Felice Gimondi are the three champions that have truly represented the values of the Corsa Rosa.
5. Which are the biggest sporting rivalries in the Giro d’Italia?
The greatest rivalry, and the most popular by far, was between Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali.
6. What are the most iconic images (pictures) of the Giro d’Italia?
Fiorenzo Magni riding the mountain time trial of Bologna-San Luca, in the 16th stage of the 1956 Giro [as featured in Velo's 2011 Hardman Issue —Ed.]. He was unable to push hard on the pedals due to his broken collarbone, a fracture he had sustained on the previous day’s stage, so at the suggestion of his mechanic Faliero Masi, he rode biting a tubular knotted to the handlebar to fight the pain.
7. What are the most poignant gestures of sportsmanship during the Giro d’Italia?
On May 10th 2011, during the 4th stage of the Giro, the peloton, along with hundreds of thousands of fans lining the route of the 216km stage, paid homage to Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt, who died the day before after a fatal crash.
8. What is the statement or quotation that best represents the spirit of the Giro?
The clear winner is the legendary phrase of the Rai radio commentator Mario Ferretti during the 17th stage of the 1949 Giro, from Cuneo to Pinerolo, who at the beginning of his program said: “There’s only one man in the lead: his jersey is celeste and white; his name is Fausto Coppi.”
9. What have been the biggest surprises of all time at the Giro d’Italia?
The Swiss rider Carlo Clerici, racing the Giro in 1954 as a domestique for Hugo Koblet, won the overall race after one of the most famous fughe bidone (Italian term meaning a fluke attack, invented by the Italian press after that specific occasion) in cycling history. Clerici attacked with four riders during the sixth stage from Naples to L’Aquila, gaining more than half an hour on the peloton. No one was able to recover this entire margin over the remaining stages, despite the fact Clerici was not a great climber.
10. Which are the most impressive sporting feats in more than 100 years of battles on the roads of the Giro?
The “podium” of the most impressive feats in the history of the Giro d’Italia has some of the greatest champions of the sport on it: third is Fausto Coppi dominating Cuneo to Pinerolo in the 1949 Giro; second is Marco Pantani winning in Oropa on the 15th stage of the 1999 Giro after a glorious comeback from a mechanical problem at the base of the final climb; and in first place, the most impressive sporting feat in over 100 years, is Eddy Merckx winning the 12th stage of the Giro in 1968, from Gorizia to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.