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Gallery: Northern Italy’s Madonna del Ghisallo chapel enshrines cycling’s greats

As Carlos Sastre charged away on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, several Italians gathered around a TV in a small café just paces away from the Sanctuary of Ghisallo, the tiny church for the patron saint of cyclists in Magreglio. Pope Pius XII officially gave the Madonna of Ghisallo the title in 1949, and today the hilltop shrine in northern Italy — smack on the Tour of Lombardy course — serves as a shrine to cycling greats, past and present.

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By Ben Delaney

Ghisallo: Pope Pius XII appointed the Madonna of Ghisallo patron saint of cyclists in 1949.

Ghisallo: Pope Pius XII appointed the Madonna of Ghisallo patron saint of cyclists in 1949.

Photo: Ben Delaney

As Carlos Sastre charged away on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, several Italians gathered around a TV in a small café just paces away from the Sanctuary of Ghisallo, the tiny church for the patron saint of cyclists in Magreglio. Pope Pius XII officially gave the Madonna of Ghisallo the title in 1949, and today the hilltop shrine in northern Italy — smack on the Tour of Lombardy course — serves as a shrine to cycling greats, past and present.

Overlooking Lake Como, the Ghisallo church sits on the road south from Bellagio towards Milan. The steep climb up to the church is often decisive in the Giro di Lombardia.

Inside, the walls are thoroughly covered with the bikes, jerseys and other momentos from some of the biggest names in cycling, including Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi and Miguel Indurain.

VeloNews took a close look for this photo gallery.

Photo Gallery