Found here on eBay is Maurizio Fondriest's spare Legnano bike from the 1988 season – the year when the Italian won the World Championship road race in Ronse, Belgium.
But if you followed professional cycling in the late 1980s, you would have seen – or, more likely with the lack of worldwide TV coverage then, read about – Fondriest's win in the road race at the 1988 World Championships, when crashes and disqualifications in the group of three riders he came to the finish with made for a very different podium to the one you might reasonably have expected going into the last few hundred metres of the race.
Canada's Steve Bauer was deemed to have closed the door on Belgium's Claude Criquielion as the two sprinted for the line, with Criquielion hitting the deck and Bauer getting tangled up in the crash. It left 23-year-old Fondriest to come across the line as the new world champion, while second-placed Bauer was disqualified and Criquielion was passed by the chasing group, which meant that France's Martial Gayant took silver and Spain's Juan Fernández bronze.
Fondriest in fact only rode professionally on Legnano frames for one season, in 1988, at the Alfa Lum-Legnano team. Although the bike for sale here is the same bike design and colour as the one ridden that year by Fondriest, the seller says that this was his spare bike, and therefore perhaps didn't see so much action – which you could also argue only serves to have preserved it somewhat.
It looks to be in fantastic condition, with its original paintwork, and the custom-built Columbus SLX steel frame is furnished with a Campagnolo C-Record groupset and wheels, 3TTT bars and stem, and a Selle San Marco saddle.
The Legnano name, incidentally, comes from the town just outside Milan where the bikes were produced. The company started out as manufacturers of motorbikes, but sponsored a cycling team from 1906 when it began to make bikes, and illustrious names to have passed through the team's ranks include Italian cycling legends Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. The bike brand was later sold to Bianchi, but remains a much-sought-after marque by collectors.
Included in the seller's listing is the Bettini Photo picture, below, of Fondriest in his world champ's rainbow jersey, which would have been at one of the late-season Italian races he rode in 1988 – possibly Il Lombardia or the Giro dell'Emilia.
Fondriest then moved on to the Del Tongo team, and Pinarello bikes, for the 1989 season, and went on to ride for Panasonic and Lampre, before starting his own bike company and riding on his own bikes for the last few years of his career at Roslotto and Cofidis, retiring at the end of the 1998 season.
Neither we nor the Berlin, Germany-based seller are sure of the Legnano model, but what you are getting here is the genuine article, with Fondriest's name etched – not overly expertly, it must be said – on the top tube. As such, the price being asked for the bike is significant: US$14,999.99 (£12,030).
We're constantly on the lookout for unique and rare cycling relics on eBay. If you have any suggestions or leads, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'eBay Finds' in the subject line.
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