Some say that, after the aging hero Gino Bartali crashed in Stage 3 and lost his chances of winning, Coppi set out to claim glory for their Legnano team. His chances too seemed to have been ruined after he broke his bike and lost significant time in Stage 5, but after a superhuman effort he successfully clawed his way back into contention and then took the race leadership from Enrico Mollo during Stage 10, after which the two of them worked together to ensure the younger man kept the lead all the way to the end of the race. Others say that, with the old hero Bartali out of the way, young upstart Coppi decided to grab the race for himself and the reason he road so hard was that he didn't want to share glory after Bartali sent the team after him. Either way, in the years to come the two men developed an intense rivalry that divided Italy.
The 1975 Giro covered 3,933km in 21 stages and saw a superb win for a virtually-unknown Fausto Bertoglio after taking the lead in Stage 13. The far more experienced Spanish climber Francisco Galdos did everything in his power to take the victory from him and eventually beat him to the finish line on the Passo del Stelvio - however, Bertoglio's overall time remained 41" shorter, and the race was his.
1979 consisted of 20 stages including a prologue, covering 3,301km. Francesco Moser was favourite, but the young Giuseppe Saronni shadowed him all the way and eventually gained a 1'24" lead in the Stage 8 time trial. Though doing so seemed an impossible task, he successfully retained his lead to the very end and even added to it; finally beating Moser by 2'09".
(image credit: Roadworks)
1997 victory for Ivan Gotti, who - despite another win in 1999, is almost entirely forgotten today, the reason being that his two Grand Tours were not won entirely fairly - he was caught out in a doping control in 2001, which brought his career to an end; then shortly afterwards his marriage broke up too. Today, Gotti is a sales agent for Ferrero, the well-known chocolate manufacturer. When discussing the way his cycling days ended and the way in which the cycling world went after dopers in the early years of the 21st Century, he sounds bitter; however, he seems happy enough overall with his new life.
Edvald Boasson Hagen
|Edvald Boasson Hagen|
(image credit: Petit Brun
CC BY-SA 2.0)
Born in Lillehammer on this day in 1987, Boasson Hagen became National Under-19 Road Race Champion in 2004 and then Road Race and Time Trial Champion the following year before turning professional with Maxbo-Bianchi in 2006. 2007 was his break-through year with fifteen victories; earning him a place with the legendary, tragically now-defunct Highroad for the next season - which also proved successful with three stages at the Tour of Britain, one at the Tour of the Benelux and, best of all, Stage 3 at the Criterium International.
In 2009 he won the prestigious Gent-Wevelgem, a Flanders Classic that ends with a sprint at the end of a very challenging parcours with several steep climbs and by doing so revealed his speciality - he was a lightning-fast sprinter but, unlike most sprinters, he could take serious abuse on the way to the final few metres. He also rode the Giro d'Italia, his first Grand Tour, that year. Most Grand Tour rookies will not finish, but Boasson Hagen won Stage 7, was second on two more, third on another and in the top ten in two others - an extremely impressive total, despite doing badly on others and coming 82nd overall. Later, he won the Points competition at the Tour of the Benelux - and, as the summer reached an end, announced that he would be joining the newly-formed Sky the following year.
During his first season with the British team, the young rider - still only 22 - did the unthinkable when he took on World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara in a time trial at the Tour of Oman and beat him by an incredible 17", enough to win him the overall Youth category and Points competition. Sky would prove to be his ideal home, giving him room to learn from more experienced riders yet also plenty of scope to keep winning races - he has been National Time Trial Champion at Elite level every year since 2007, won Stages 6 (the first time a stage had ever been won by a British-registered team) and 17 at the Tour de France and the General Classification at the Tour of the Benelux in 2011 (and the Points for a second consecutive year). Since the start of 2012, he has won the Points competition at the Tour Down Under and stages at the Volta ao Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico. It seems only a matter of time before he wins a Grand Tour.
Joan Llaneras, born in Porreras, Spain on this day in 1969, was partnered with Isaac Gálvez in the Madison at the 2006 Six Days of Ghent - the meet at which Gálvez collided with Dimitri De Fauw, hit the railings and died (De Fauw suffered terrible depression after the accident and took his own life three years later). Llaneras, who started out as a road racer but subsequently decided to concentrate on track cycling, considered giving the sport up afterwards.
|Llaneras and Gálvez|
(image credit: Olimpiaduerme)
The Swedish rider Fredrik Kessiakoff, having won his National Mountain Bike Championship four times, defected to road cycling in 2009 with a contract to ride with Fuji-Servetto, the team that became Geox-TMC. A year later, he switched to Garmin-Transitions (now Garmin-Barracuda) and then in 2011 to Astana - with whom he won the Tour of Austria.
Beñat Albizuri, born in Berriz, Euskadi on this day in 1981, joined Euskaltel-Euskadi as a trainee in 2005 and then earned himself a professional contract after he came second on a stage at the Vuelta a la Rioja. Unfortunately, his results in the following years were not impressive and the team released him at the end of 2008. He seems to have then vanished from cycling altogether.
Czesław Lang, born in Kołczygłowy, Poland on this day in 1955, won the Tour of Poland in 1980. Since 1993, he has been director of the race.
On this day in 2009, Steve Peat beat fellow British rider Gee Atherton by 0.02" at the third round of the UCI World Cup and became officially the most successful professional downhill mountain biker of all time.
On this day in 1941, Alfred Letourneur used a Schwinn bike at the Los Angeles Speedway to set a new World Motor-paced Bicycle Speed Record at 175kph.
Other cyclists born on this day: Luke Ockerby (Australia, 1992); Michael McKay (Jamaica, 1964 - not to be confused with GreenEDGE CEO Michael McKay); Elisabeth Westman (Sweden, 1966); Wolfram Kurschat (Germany, 1975); Achille Souchard (France, 1900, died 1976); Mun Suk (South Korea, 1965); Junker Jørgensen (Denmark, 1946, died 1989).