Giro d’Italia stage 11 preview: Organizers bring back 1968 Worlds finish circuit in Imola

The Giro d’Italia’s stage 11 dives back in time on Wednesday with a return to a finishing circuit all but identical to the one used in the Imola World Championships in 1968, where Italian star Vittorio Adorni won solo at the line with the second biggest margin on his chasers in the history of the rainbow jersey.

The peloton were relieved to discover at the Giro d’Italia presentation that the stage will not take on the full 1968 World Championships distance of 277 kilometres. Instead they will tackle a 153-kilometre stage from Forlí to Imola, finishing on the world-famous motor circuit, the Autodromo Enzo e Dino.

There are no less than five classified climbs on the rugged, hilly stage and barely a metre of flat, with the peloton covering just over 100 kilometres on a stage starting in Forli before completing three full laps of the World’s 15.4-kilometre circuit.

“It’s going to be another one of those stages where something big could happen, because it’s very difficult,” Etixx-QuickStep sports director Davide Bramati commented. “It’s a demanding stage, but it should be possible to keep things under control,” adds Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli.

“Our thinking as a team from the start was that the first week was a lot more difficult than the second, and we said that if we wanted to gain something, it would have to be in the first week. Now, that doesn’t mean you could just switch off in the second week.”

Vittorio Adorni certainly gained something in the 1968 World Championships at Imola and was not switched off, either. Already the Giro d’Italia winner in 1965, Adorni broke away with Belgian Rik Van Looy on the eighth of 18 circuits. A Belgian and an Italian ahead meant that neither of the two big favourites, Eddy Merckx or Felice Gimondi, could put their teams on to chase.

Then with 83 kilometres to go, Adorni went solo, staying away to win by a spectacular margin of nine minutes and 50 seconds over the first chaser home, Herman Van Springel of Belgium, with the main group coming home at 10 minutes and 10 seconds. To make it even more special for Italy, compatriot Michele Dancelli claimed the bronze., and Italy finished with five riders in the top six.

Adorni’s winning margin remains the second largest in World Championships history, lesser only than the advantage of 1928 World’s Champion George Ronsse in Budapest, of 19-43, over Germany’s Herbert Nebe. Although such margins are highly unlikely tomorrow, the Classics specialists in the Giro d’Italia will be looking to make the most of such a hallowed scenario - for motor racing and for two wheeled stars as well.

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.