We shouldn’t underestimate that first climb because it’s going to be horrible after a stage like the one they’ve been through the day before. It’s 7km and on the surface it might look insignificant. However, if you’re morale is low and you lose contact you might find yourself in real trouble.
The point is that you don’t know if or when the break will go and nor how much time the sprint team will let the break take. For all we know it might be lightning fast for an hour, so focus is key.
So it’s important that they don’t take it lightly. They need to have an objective and a responsibility, because that’s the best way to keep the group united and the morale up. Logically it’s a sprint, but what happens depends on the composition of the break and on the sprint teams. At this stage of the race they’re extremely tired, so you never know…
Moment in time
The Giro paid its first visit to Lugano for the penultimate stage in 1947. It marked a historic moment in the sense that it was the first time the race had alighted outside of Italy’s confines, but also because of what happened on the road. By now Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali were at loggerheads. Bartali had won the previous year but this time Coppi, five years younger, had destroyed him in the queen stage in the Dolomites. Bartali had been humiliated and so, as they crossed the Swiss border, he launched a stinging attack on a tasty little climb. The purpose was to win the points at the top, but Coppi wasn’t having it. Four times Bartali surged and four times Coppi, riding within himself, reeled him in. It was classic stuff and the needle between them was palpable.
Later, as they neared Lugano, was another highly symbolic moment. Vito Ortelli, the ‘third man’ of Italian cycling, took off in the company of Giovanni Corrieri, a lightning fast Sicilian. Ortelli was so classy that many had favoured him to barge in on the Coppi/Bartali duopoly, but there was no way he could beat Corrieri in a sprint. What happened next, though, was astonishing…
Corrieri’s team mate, a certain Fiorenzo Magni, jumped across the gap. It seemed to make no sense whatsoever, but Magni had a point to prove. Ortelli was a big rival for him and if he’d to tread on Corrieri’s toes to get at him, then so be it. Ruthless, no-quarter stuff…
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