|Giro d'Italia '49 .....(click view all - few days worth)...||Spirito|
May 28, 2002 11:38 PM
|ENTRY TO THE CHAMPIONS ROOM IS FORBIDDEN
(transcribed by Aldo Ross)
Amalfi, the night of Wednesday, 25th May 1949.
Dino Buzzati writes.
It is noon, and the champion is still asleep. Why is he so tired? Isn't he the one who only feels right when he's exhausted? The others are out riding around Salerno; luckily the sun came out today, and people are already seated at café tables beneath canopies of vines, while street players, out of respect for the Giro, are singing their classic old tunes free of charge. Perhaps yesterday's stage wore him out? "No, no," replies a small group of team personnel in the hotel lobby, "He's not actually sleeping . . . in fact, he's awake, but still in his bed . . . he doesn't feel like getting up, that's all. He'll have his lunch in bed, too."
Then perhaps he isn't feeling well? His wonderful body, which doctors have studied with cries of amazement, is perhaps showing some slight dysfunction, however minor? Is he feeling the after-effects of his fall at the Cosenza finish?
Outside, the sun is shining. Fausto Coppi, in a fashionable short-sleeved blue shirt and long trousers, is pedaling sluggishly at no more than seven kph around the neighborhoods of Amalfi, where he is staying; he's enjoying the marvelous views of those houses set at dizzying heights, those Wagnerian crags, that magnificent azure sea - worthy of Homer. Why is his great rival still in bed on a day like today?
"No, no, no, don't say that, not even in jest," his team personnel reply with slightly amused smiles, "In fact, he has never felt better. "In bed" is only an expression. In fact, he's not really in bed at all. He got dressed quite some time ago, and the doctor who gave him his daily check-up didn't find a hair out of place. There isn't the slightest hint of weakness. It's just that he prefers to stay in his room . . . he doesn't want to see anyone. "
" Is he in a bad mood, then? Discouraged? Bad news? Nerves?"
His guardians, custodians, lieutenants, and advisors shake their heads. "Nerves? For him, nerves don't exist. In his case, his strength and fortitude continue, confirming his total superiority over all the others. Uneasiness, anxiety, apprehension, fear - these words are meaningless to him."
On the ground floor of the hotel two teams of cheerful cyclists are seated at a table. Not him. A trusted waiter, or more likely his personal masseur, tentatively enters the room, bringing lunch on a tray. A particularly observant group of fans, looking in through the front door, glimpse the sparkling soup tureen and the dishes being carried across the lobby. Bartali's lunch! A shiver runs through the little crowd that has been waiting patiently since early morning, giving them new hope. The great news spread quickly.
Here's an interesting note! . . . The other racers who just dismounted their bikes and are seen at the restaurant, for example, or in the coffee shop, are difficult to recognize, they look so different - like actors who are no longer acting and have removed their make-up, rejoining the ranks of ordinary men like us.
But not Bartali.
Even after the race, he does not go back to being just any man. He remains a Champion, alien to our everyday world. And the strange thing is that we thought this myth-phenomenon was exclusively the realm of the naïve crowd. Within his own intimate circle of friends, we believe, he is considered to be a superior class cyclist, yes, but also a man like any other. Isn't it the same for great artists and powerful politicians who, when seen close up in their daily life, come down from their pedestals? Respect becomes blurred, we're on a first-name basis, and we can take the liberty of joking. Instead, in Coppi's and Bartali's case (especially Bartali) the myth persists even among those close to them. Not that they are considered to be geniuses, but no one dares to di
May 28, 2002 11:39 PM
Respect becomes blurred, we're on a first-name basis, and we can take the liberty of joking. Instead, in Coppi's and Bartali's case (especially Bartali) the myth persists even among those close to them. Not that they are considered to be geniuses, but no one dares to disagree with them.
We have a special regard for everything they do - even their team directors on whom the depend, even the patriarchs of cycling. Even the journalists (whose job almost always turns them into ruthless skeptics) have an uncommon respect for the two champions, perhaps without even realizing it. The journalists will deny it of course, and if they should happen to read these lines, they will probably laugh.
Yet it is true.
And a question comes to us: The spectators, even those in the front row, even the shrewdest and most irreverent, do they perceive in the extraordinary physical abilities of these two men the presence of something mysterious and sacred, a sort of grace, evincing a supernatural authority?
Perhaps this may explain the immense attraction of Sport. This might justify what otherwise seems so absurd: to wit, that reasonable, well-educated people can lose their heads and get upset and scream over a football player or a cyclist. But there are those who will say: But isn't it frightening that the modern world gives vent to it's secret urge for mysticism in the sports arena? Isn't it humiliating? It is a difficult question to answer. But it may be that sports fanaticism, with all its extravagance, is much less vulgar that it might seem at first glance.
The Champion remains shut in his room. He ate, received a massage, read his mail, skimmed through the newspapers, talked for quite some time with the few people allowed to enter, complained about the bump he took the day before yesterday, griped about all the noise the crowd was making down in the street as they continued to call for him, and grumbled about everything. He switched abruptly from one topic to another without ever getting tired. If there was ever a rider who doesn't get discouraged during a race, it is Bartali. Even when the day has gone badly for him and he loses several minutes, he still holds on. It almost seems as if he finds a sort of bitter comfort in suffering - perhaps his faith plays a part - and he seems to perceive in his misfortunes a sign that Heaven is speaking to him.
However, it is said that with the passage of time he is becoming less and less tolerant of superfluous visits, of overly-enthusiastic admirers, of the hundreds of annoyances which life inevitably inflicts upon him. Who knows . . . who can fathom the depths of his soul? Is fame itself beginning to frighten him, causing him to contemplate the future?
Meanwhile, the rest day has come to an end, and the usual race-eve rites have begun. In one of the hotel lounges, now deserted because everybody has gone to bed, Bartali's team director, Virginio Colombo, prepares race food for the members of his team. He has arranged seven slips of paper on the table, a racer's name on each one, and with the accuracy of a pharmacist he allots to each the prescribed foods.
"Do they all get the same portions?" I ask.
"Of course, identical portions for everyone."
"But why", I ask, "are there four portions of omelet roll-ups for Bartali, while Benso has only three?"
"No, that's impossible."
"What do you mean, impossible? Count them."
Columbo counts them, and is a bit disconcerted. "Well . . . you are right. I made a mistake." And he gives Benso an additional portion.
Was it an involuntary, almost instinctive, injustice? Sometimes it happens. But it is not only the portions of omelet . . . there are also more bananas for Bartali: four instead of three. And Colombo is worried . . . he realizes I have noticed, and he looks at us suspiciously.
"And the bananas?" we ask.
"What about the bananas?"
"Oh, nothing, nothing
May 28, 2002 11:41 PM
"Oh, nothing, nothing."
(To persist would be spiteful.)
thanks to aldo ross....
|re: Giro d'Italia '49 .....next day.....(things are heating up).||Spirito|
May 28, 2002 11:43 PM
|FOR A MOMENT IT SEEMED AS IF BARTALI WAS BEATEN
(transcribed by Aldo Ross)
Napoli, the night of Thursday, 26th May.
Dino Buzzati writes . . .
Bartali is dropped.
On the Pratola hill, fifty kilometers out of Salerno, Fausto Coppi pedals with all his might. He is at the head of a group of a dozen racers, but none of them are from his team, so he is working alone.
"And Bartali?" people ask.
Bartali is not there.
"Is Bartali in the second group?"
Sunshine. . .
Green hills. . .
A monk. . .
Pine trees. . .
Vineyards. . .
Three more monks standing beneath a poplar tree. . .
A tiny girl clapping her hands. . .
Sudden puffs of dust where the road is being repaired. . .
Children of every age imaginable. . .
A cripple in a wheelchair. . .
Clouds billowing in from the east. . .
And under a little white cycling cap, Coppi's angular face, burnt red by the sun and the exertion.
He looks back - is anyone coming to help him?
He has already gained four hundred meters. . .
Now five hundred . . .
Driving ahead of the race, we are met by the "questioning" hand gesture so characteristic of the southern Italian - hands stretched out waving, with fingers joined and pointing upward. It is an urgent, almost indignant plea. They have been waiting there for an hour, and cannot wait any longer - they must know . . . Who is leading? Who is winning?
"What are you doing here" their demeanor seems to say to us "if not to bring us news? Who is leading?"
"Bravo!" the boys yell, jumping up and down and punching each other in joy. At that moment they could have hugged us . . .they would have done anything for us.
However, other faces clouded over so quickly it was almost comical;
Bartali is back there.
"Bartali left behind?" they shouted at us, begging us to say is isn't true.
We do not deny it - that's just how it is.
But there is no time to argue - we hurry along through the countryside at a dizzying pace, passing ever more new faces, lined up by their thousands on both sides - an endless tunnel of humanity at its highest pitch of excitement. They have forgotten everything else: who they are, the work they left behind, illnesses, luxuries, unpaid bills, headaches, love, everything except one monumental fact: Fausto Coppi is in the lead, and Bartali, lagging behind, continues to lose ground.
San Giorgio - it is siesta time, when midday drowsiness reigns over the fields, when the city streets are deserted, when cattle herds nap in the shade of a huge beech tree, when in the silence of a kitchen we can hear the flies buzzing, and outside, the cicadas. . .
But today everyone is on the street - not even the dogs are napping, and they dart madly to-and-fro, trying to avoid the mad ballet of cars rushing past.
Coppi's lead group of ten have gone past.
On the clock, the second hand turns, turns, turns, and still the chasers fail to appear. . .
There they are at last - Bartali is in the lead. He throws us an irritated glance. His face looks swollen from the effort, but the facial muscles aren't contracted in pain. He, too, is alone in his group; no one comes forward to help him.
The surrounding countryside is stupendous, a perfect picture of the serenity of high summer. And yet, it may be right here that an important drama is unfolding. Perhaps amid these joyful fields the Giro is taking a decisive turn, and a heart will be broken.
Bartali, old lion . . . is this the day that had to come, sooner of later? Is this your supreme hour, after which the final collapse of youth begins? Has the spell been broken here, on a miserable little hill only 585 meters high? Is the faithful genie that, until now, has accompanied you to glory, no longer answering you
May 28, 2002 11:44 PM
Has the spell been broken here, on a miserable little hill only 585 meters high? Is the faithful genie that, until now, has accompanied you to glory, no longer answering your call? Have you become a mortal like all the others?
Suddenly you'll know - the mysterious talent will leave you. In the middle of a race, all at once, you will feel strangely alone: like a king at the height of battle who, on turning to issue orders, finds that his army dissolved by magic into nothingness.
This terrible moment will come.
You don't know, and it could be this very day, during one of the Giro's easiest stages, because fate is cruel and amuses itself by doing the unexpected.
At this point, the time gap is almost a minute-and-a-half. That's still not too much . . . tires frequently go flat.
It could well be today, Bartali's famous "fatal hour", and twenty years from now we journalists, grown old and out of date, will recount it, as if it were a fairy tale, to our younger colleagues who come to see us in the editorial office late at night.
It really looked then as if an important moment in cycling history were about to occur; the twilight of an era, the decisive passing of the crown from one head to the other. An atmosphere of anxiety hangs over the endless procession speeding past, over the crowds in the towns, over the sports fans in distant cities where the radio had already broadcast the news.
But his faithful genie had not betrayed him. Invisible, it was still at the Champion's side.
Bartali changes the wheel in ten seconds.
Bartali hurtles off in pursuit, angrier and more obstinate than ever.
Does he get any encouragement from the large inscriptions written on the road in his honor?
Is he comforted by all the voices chanting his name?
Probably not, judging from his apparent indifference.
He is still at the front of his group, and he doesn't tire.
Now the gap decreases.
Bartali catches sight of the colorful team cars ahead at the far end of the road, spare wheels sparkling on the racks: a sign that the lead group is not far away. It's a welcome sign.
A delirious crowd packs the balconies to bursting point, and it looks as though they are about to collapse under all the weight.
(Come on, Bartali - six more kilometers and the lead group will be caught!)
Perhaps Coppi got tired of doing all the work himself, and it wasn't to his advantage to wear himself out to help Cottur, wearing the maglia rosa of race leader, who was also in this group.
The drama fades away, the tension dissipates, and everything returns to the daily routine.
The two great Champions do not react when Biagioni, continuing to sprint after the King of the Mountains line at Monte Sarchio, bounds ahead alone. The Giants are not alarmed. Biagioni is among the last riders on general classification. Thus, the young Tuscan has the pleasure of passing alone through the two unbroken walls of swaying black humanity flooding the final forty kilometers, down the hill toward Caserta's majestic boulevards, which seem to have been built specially for triumphant arrivals.
Whether or not the towns' centers are inhabited, an indescribable mass of people has materialized along the roadsides. As we pass at full speed, and as Biagioni gradually moves ahead, we hear the roar behind us, breaking like a wave, then crashing madly.
But is it possible that there are so many human beings in the world? Have the experts and the census takers perhaps made a tremendous mistake? There would have to be far more than forty-five millions inhabitants if all of Italy were like this!
Sucked-up by this vortex of a crowd, which little by little swelled to dreamlike proportions, Biagioni hurtled into Napoli. Is there any need to repeat what the congestion was like in the Arenaccia stadium, and the thunder that welcomed the
May 28, 2002 11:46 PM
Is there any need to repeat what the congestion was like in the Arenaccia stadium, and the thunder that welcomed the arrival of that little bicycle, all alone, and Leoni's very elegant sprint four minutes later, stealing second place from Luciano Maggini and Fausto Coppi?
And the cheers, the flowers, the gaiety, the hugs for the champions?
And the golden cloud of dust that turned Napoli into a mirage?
thanks to aldo ross
Stage 5 - Thursdays May 26th
SALERNO - NAPLES 161 kilometers
1° Serafino BIAGIONI gs.Viscontea
2° Adolph Leoni at 4min 02sec
3° Luciano MAGGINI st
4° Fausto Coppi Goblets st
5° Logli st
6° Soldani st
7° Bartali st
8° Pasotti st
9° Astrua st
10° Bresci st
1° Giordano COTTUR
2° Fazio to 1' 18 "
3° Schaer to 1' 34 "
4° Ronconi to 1 ' 49 "
5° Jomaux to 2' 02 "
May 28, 2002 11:49 PM
|(this is a special chapter today, coinciding as it does with our Memorial Day in the United States. It's been 58 years since the battle for Cassino - I wonder what that valley is like today? . . . A.R.)
THE GHOSTS OF ANCIENT CASSINO AWAKEN FOR THE GIRO
(transcribed by Aldo Ross)
Roma, the night of Friday, May 27th.
Dino Buzzati writes. . .
Why wasn't the ancient and noble town Cassino waiting for the Giro's racers today as they traveled from Napoli to Roma?
It would have been so nice, but on the contrary:
There were no pretty girls at the windows. . .
Even the windows were missing. . .
Even the walls were missing where windows should have opened. . .
There were no multicolored paper festoons strung between dilapidated little pink houses. . .
Even the houses were missing. . .
The streets, too. . .
There was nothing but shapeless rocks, baked and bleached white by the sun,
and wild grass,
even a few shrubs indicating that nature was in charge here, to wit rain, wind, sun, lizards, various members of the plant and animal world. . .
But man was no longer here - the patient creatures who for many centuries had lived there, worked, loved, procreated in the intimacy of the dwellings he had built for himself, stone upon stone.
None of that exists any longer.
But was there really no one left in the gigantic white scar which gleams so savagely in the sunlight, on one side of the valley?
But yes, there were some people still, reduced to unrecognizable fragments, bone slivers, or ashes. An old man, perhaps, or a woman, or a young man who had stubbornly refused to leave when the latest model of heavy artillery began the most meticulous and total demolition ever seen in the world, so that not even a two-meter stump of wall remained, not even the slightest bit of shelter behind which one small had the chance to take cover. Everything was leveled, as it was at the beginning of the world; more so, in fact, because originally there were probably trees and bushes.
"The Giro?" they replied. "But we here, the residents of ancient Cassino, are not ready. We lack everything necessary to properly welcome the racers. Be patient - we no longer have streets for them to ride on, nor eyes to see them, nor voices with which to cheer them, nor even hands to applaud them."
"Come on, wake up!, even if only for a moment. Bartali is here, and Coppi, too. Don't you want to see them, if only out of curiosity? Half a minute is plenty . . . come, make some effort, and then can will go back to sleep. They go fast, these Giants of the road - you barely manage to get a glimpse of them, and they are gone" (But this is a lie, because today the Giants of the road, these "devourers of kilometers", these human locomotives, looked more like lazy slugs as they ambled along in amiable groups, chatting away, not even thinking about doing battle; and only at the last moment, almost at the gates of Roma, will there be the obligatory attack by young novices, so full of hope, but the Aces will not concern themselves, so the eight escapees - Ricci, Frosini, Pasotti, Rossello, Vincenzo, Schaer, Busancano, Cerami, Dubuisson - will arrive at the Appio velodrome with a small lead, and will finish in that order).
"No, no, let us sleep." the voice of old Cassino replied, "Go ask the others - those who stayed some distance away. See? There, where the valley widens. They are starting to rebuild there, the "new" Cassino, I mean - it is already rising. They've worked hard, haven't they?"
"Yes, we see, but it is something quite different. A stirring and quite beautiful proof of human tenacity. However, the hideous, prison-like architecture has nothing to do with the city of old. It isn't even logical, since life in such ugly houses will always be sad and uncomfortable. This is not Cassino - it i
May 28, 2002 11:50 PM
This is not Cassino - it is a strange and different creature, that makes the scar on the side of the valley stand out even more cruelly."
"I understand," the voice said, "but it is too late. If we were to rise again, even for a minute, it would terrify the living. They remember and love us, as long as we remain silent and motionless underground. Too much time has passed. The years erase everything. Just here is where my room used to be, my bed, a picture of my favorite saint, a corn cob hanging on the wall, a rifle, two or three books, a wash stand and basin - now there is a hazelnut tree, and robins hopping among its branches. Perhaps it is better this way, and better for us to forget the Giro."
"The Giro? What's that?" asked Martin J. Collins, awakened by the ear-splitting racket of the Klaxons (car horns) and the noisy rattle of bicycles. He was once a soldier attached to ammunition supply, and now, a bloodless ghost, settled here for all eternity. (There had been a white flash, a tremendous explosion, a great cloud of dust, and nothing remained of the handsome young man, not even his helmet, himself dust - in fact, a vague memory.) And with some difficulty he raised his sleepy head from his rustic tomb of rock and wind and sun.
"Was ist los?" asked a voice a meter away, the voice of former feldwebel Friedrich Gestern; he, too, transformed into pure remembrance by a masterful shot. He was sleeping, he was awakened by sound of cars. He rubs the sleep from his tired eyes.
And others, invisible to us, awaken along the slopes that have become green again, in the small valley that today, in the May sunshine, looks like a tiny paradise, which five years ago was crawling with corpses. How many there are! A massive army of mixed uniforms and races - men who butchered each other and who now rest side by side in peace, reconciled by eternal armistice.
"Not to worry, brave men." we say to them. "It's the Giro; it does no harm. These boys pedal, exert themselves, try to race as fast as the can (except for today). And why? For nothing of any importance. . . for the pleasure of winning. For the satisfaction of those who watch them, because if man isn't fighting in one way or another he becomes uneasy.
But pardon us - perhaps this is not something for you. It is life, that's what it is, in its most ingenuous, sensationalized form, but for you it's somewhat irritating, I'm afraid. Pardon us.
"We were only passing by. If we have awakened you, we apologize. We wanted only to say "Hello" to the old Cassino that no longer exists (and you know a thing or two about that). Do not worry, we are leaving right away, then you won't see us again for at least another year. Sleep well, my children!"
And the procession of Champions (well, perhaps not champions today), with its sacrilegious voices, filed past below the terrible white scar, then vanished again into the green countryside. Soon not even its echo could be heard.
And back there in new Cassino, at the far end of the valley, the stone masons started hammering again, and time began to pass once more over the shattered rocks and white rubble which follows the side of the mountain.
The haggard specters lay down again, rested their cheeks against the compassionate earth, and went back to sleep. And us? We looked at the swarm of racers, so cheerful with all those colorful jerseys and sparkling bicycles, we looked at the spectators quivering with impatience, the traffic policemen bustling to control the retinue's speed, that whole little world galloping madly toward the north of Italy.
The sunshine was splendid. . . it was hot.
And then they will ask us, "Are they all together still in a group?"
thanks to aldo ross
May 28, 2002 11:52 PM
|6° tappa - venerdì 27 maggio
NAPOLI ROMA 233 chilometri
1° Mario RICCI, (Ita), gs.Viscontea, 7 ore 07'50" media: 32,676
2° Luciano FROSINI, gs.Legnano Pirelli, same time
3° Alfredo PASOTTI, gs.Benotto, st
4° Vincenzo ROSSELLO gs.Legnano Pirelli st
5° Fritz SCHAER gs.Stucchi st
6° Elio BUSANCANO gs.Edelweiss st
7° Pino CERAMI gs.Ganna st
8° Albert DUBUISSON gs.Ganna st
9° Alfredo LEONI gs.Legnano Pirelli a 30"
10° Oreste CONTE gs.Bianchi Ursus st
1° Giordano COTTUR gs.Wilier Triestina
2° SCHAER a 1'04"
3° Mario FAZIO gs.Bottecchia a 1'18"
4° Aldo RONCONI gs.Viscontea a 1'49"
5° Léon JOMAUX gs.Bartali a 2'02"
6° Andrea CARREA gs.Bianchi Ursus a 2'11"
7° Fausto COPPI gs.Bianchi Ursus a 2'58"
8° LEONI a 3'13"
9° Serafino BIAGIONI gs.Viscontea a 3'23"
10° Guido DE SANTI gs.Atala a 3'33"
11 (tie) Alfredo MARTINI gs.Wilier Triestina a 3'43"
11 (tie) Nedo LOGLI gs.Arbos a 3'43"
13 Gino BARTALI gs.Bartali a 3'58"
Maglia Bianca (white jersey): FAZIO
|Giro d'Italia '49 .....(28th may)...||Spirito|
May 28, 2002 11:54 PM
|A BREAK THAT TAKES LEAVES YOU BREATHLESS, FROM ROMA TO THE ADTRIATIC
(transcribed by Aldo Ross)
Pesaro, the night of Saturday, May 28th.
Dino Buzzati writes.
It is a bitter thing to travel across this part of Italy, from Roma to Pesaro, without time to take a break, without being able to stop.
For this is Italy at its most "Italian", where a hundred thousand great events are remembered, not only by those who went only to elementary school, but also by those who have never been to school at all and do not carry within themselves any idea of all that has happened over the centuries. This extraordinarily humanized land speaks to the illiterate as well, and unless one is a savage, one would want to stop to at least relax in the shade of a tree, to listen to the music of the little birds, to gaze at the clouds sailing happily above the castles, whose ancient battlements are now open to the flight of swallows.
Nothing in the world is more contradictory to speed than this solemn landscape, whose rhythms are measured in centuries. These cities and towns weren't in a hurry today, either, so ancient they seem as much a part of the landscape as a forest or cliff.
But we could not stop.
Many predicted that this, the Giro's longest stage at two hundred ninety-eight kilometers, would be nothing more than a lethargic stroll, ending as usual in a brief skirmish during the final kilometers. It was felt that the one hundred seventy-six legs leaving at seven o'clock from the Ponte Milvio would grind along the never-ending road with all the speed of an elderly organ grinder, but on the contrary, there was no respite. From beginning to end, a frenzied flight that kept the reporters' ears perked-up without a moment's rest, launching cars and motorcycle messengers into the wild breakaways, and resulting in an exceptionally fast average speed. Old Belloni, team manager for Ronconi and companions on the Viscontea team, who in his day took part in some hellish gallops, said he could not recall such frantic pace during such a long stage. The average speed was in fact more than thirty-seven kilometers per hour - if such a thing happened during the Tour de France, who knows what a great fuss they would make about it! Thus we didn't have a minute to contemplate the views, to listen to quotations from our learned colleague (who's a genius in history), or to greet with appropriate consideration the new towns and regions running toward us. And at the source of the Clitumnus river, not one of us responded to the inviting gestures of the half-dozen charming nymphs who appeared at the edge of a thicket, smiling.
The powder which set off this morning's explosive pace, which continued like the flame of a fuse all the way from Roma to the Adriatic, was the first intermediate sprint at Terni. These intermediate sprints are an innovation for the Giro, adopted despite some considerable controversy. Sprint lines are designated in the middle of each stage, awarding to the winner a one minute time bonus (half-a-minute for second, fifteen seconds for the third) exactly the same bonus as for a stage finish. This new idea has worked, and the patron of the giro, Emilio De Martino, is extremely satisfied. It launched a series of escapes by Vicini and Bevilacqua, briefly; then by Ronconi and Pasquini; then by Monari and Ricci. Small groups or two or three racers detached themselves from the main pack, attempting each time to breakaway. Several were able to maintain the pace and managed to catch the others already in front, or else, they dangled halfway across until they were again absorbed by the main group. Thus a tense atmosphere, starting from Roma's suburbs, and even more tense when, with the lead group having grown to twenty racers, the giants who remained behind found themselves eight minutes back at one point; and it looked as though a hard blow was in store for the two super champions.
May 28, 2002 11:55 PM
At Terni, the first to pass under the banner of the intermediate sprint was Vicini, his red head bent in the agony of his final effort, followed by Pasquini and Ronconi. There were three of them alone in front, but about twenty more followed, determined to catch them. Coppi and Bartali had hesitated, and this break, originally so limited in scope, took on a new life and attempted what no one had expected: to maintain a gap for two hundred kilometers more, all the way to the finish at the velodrome in Pesaro. This resulted in the very fast pace - it amazed even Cleto Radice, the "prince of timekeepers".
And all along the route, the people who rushed to welcome the Giro were magnificent. However, you couldn't compare them with the astonishing crowds in Sicily and Calabria, so anxious, so happy, while at the same time respectful, so that they seemed to have been painted on either side of the road, they were so perfectly aligned. Today, by comparison, it looked as though people had less regard for the giants of the road . . . a relatively poor opinion, at least, although the boys were not stingy with the praise they chalked on the asphalt, or in crayon on the walls, or in ink on small placards lifted on long broom handles and almost thrust into the riders' faces, to make certain they could read them. For example: "Long live Bartali, the conqueror" or "Bartali, make them all cry on the Izoard!"
Did the multicolored mob of cyclists know they were riding through one of the most beautiful regions in the world? Would it have made any difference if they had been surrounded by the smoggy suburbs of an industrial basin? In a certain sense, it was a crime to make use of such enchanting scenery for such unrewarding and bestial hard labor. Unaware as they gobbled up the kilometers, without looking around them, the breakaways only had eyes for the pails of water, set out by spectators in front of their houses to refresh them a little.
We in the car saw something - hasty, fragmented images of this fundamental Italy of such great and malleable beauty - the Italy, that is, of majestic ruins laden with history, the Italy of oak and cypress trees, of Italy of immense patrician villas perched on slopes like so many weary empresses, the Italy of embossed walls covered with coats of arms, the Italy of the rickety old rural buses hurtling dizzily into the valley depths, the Italy of ancient churches, of rail crossing keepers' tiny cottages, of young pregnant women, of stonecutters working at the roadside under the midday sun, of Madonna statues set into the corners of houses, their little votive lamps always lit, the Italy of haystacks and majestic long-horned oxen, of bearded young monks passing by on bicycles, of cliffs too picturesque to believe nature alone produced them, of bridges thousands of years old and still capable of carrying huge trucks on their backs, the Italy of hostelries and accordions, of grandiose palaces converted into barns and stables, of gentle hills covered to their summits with cypress trees.
We saw a few fragments of it, almost by default. They, the cyclists, saw nothing. The cyclists pedaled along, chewing furiously at their calorie-laden food because it's immediately necessary to replace the energy used, in order to keep the wheels turning.
The three fugitives became seven; a little past Foligno, the seven became almost twenty. Then, the twenty thinned again to just fifteen, because not all of them were able to maintain the effort. The duel was reduced to its simplest terms: in the lead, a group including Leoni, Ronconi, Fazio, and Pasotti, who promised a lot and threatened a violent upheaval in the overall classification; a little behind, the main group.
And the Aces? They know what they are doing. The aces are astute, and their team managers are even more astute and insightful. . . the aces, the two great ones, are very fortunate where strength is concerned, and like
May 28, 2002 11:56 PM
And the Aces? They know what they are doing. The aces are astute, and their team managers are even more astute and insightful. . . the aces, the two great ones, are very fortunate where strength is concerned, and like all self-made wealthy people they are also a bit miserly. Why spend more than is necessary? When the right moment comes, in the Dolomites, for example, or the Alps, up there, where cunning and trickery are of no value, then they will empty their bags, and they will pay down to their last cent. This, say the well-informed, is their strategy, more or less.
For the time being, they limit themselves to the indispensable: to reduce the gap between themselves and the first of the breakaways, as they did today, for example, keeping them within safe limits (less than two minutes), to keep an eye on one another, to avoid any risky, surprising turn of events. So what does it matter then if the pink jersey switched from one cyclist to another, and if this evening Cottur (who stashed the jersey at night under his mattress to ward off bad luck) had to pass it on to Fazio? What does it matter if at every stage this of that name appears in the newspaper headlines? Let the most brilliant, handsome Leoni have a good time breaking away as he did today and showing off as he did today one of his irresistible sprints, winning the stage. The right moment - they seem to be saying - will come. And meanwhile, they conserve their strength.
thanks to aldo ross
May 28, 2002 11:57 PM
|7° tappa - sabato 28 maggio
ROMA PESARO 296 chilometri
1° Adolfo LEONI gs.Legnano Pirelli in 8 ore 02'06" media: 36,838
2° Luciano MAGGINI gs.Wilier Triestina st
3° Alfredo PASOTTI gs.Benotto st
4° Antonio BEVILAQUA gs.Atala st
5° Vincenzo ROSSELLO gs.Legnano Pirelli st
6° Nedo LOGLI gs.Arbos st
7° Valeriano ZANAZZI gs.Arbos st
8° Leo CASTELLUCCI gs.Arbos st
9° Pino CERAMI gs.Ganna st
10° Ezio CECCHI gs.Cimatti st
1° Mario FAZIO gs.Bottecchia
2° Aldo RONCONI gs.Viscontea a 1"
3° Giordano COTTUR gs.Wilier Triestina a 26"
4° Alfredo LEONI gs.Legnano Pirelli a 55"
5° Fritz SCHAER gs.Stucchi a 1'30"
6° Nedo LOGLI gs.Arbos a 2'25"
7° Léon JOMAUX gs.Bartali A 2'28"
8° Fausto COPPI gs.Bianchi Ursus a 3'24"
9° Serafino BIAGIONI gs.Viscontea a 3'49"
10° Alfredo MARTINI gs.Wilier Triestina a 4'09"
11° Gino BARTALI gs.Bartali a 4'24"
Maglia Bianca: Fazio