The 67th Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) went down to the wire with a battle for the individual victory between Italian Francesco Moser and Frenchman Laurent Fignon.
It happened on June 10 in the 22nd and final stage, a 42km individual time trial from Soave to Verona. Going into the TT, Fignon was wearing the leader’s jersey with an advantage of 1:40 over Moser.
Italian partisans were hoping for another Moser time trial miracle – the kind Moser pulled off when he broke the world hour record twice in one week in Mexico City in January.
They got it.
Out came the now-famous spokeless wheel built of carbon-fiber resin. On them, Moser won the Giro’s final stage and beat Fignon by just enough to win the general classification. His margin of GC victory: about one minute. Moser won all three individual time trials during the Giro.
If there is a rank of athlete higher than that of superstar, FRANCESCO MOSER has reached it in the eyes of Italian cycling fans. After 10 unsuccessful attempts, Moser won the Tour of Italy at age 32. He won all three of’ the event’s individual time trials, including the 38km 16th stage shown here. He used solid spokeless wheels, both front and back, in the prologue and in the final stage TT June 10 that secured his overall victory. In this stage he used a solid rear wheel only and it flatted 9km from the finish. Even with the delay Moser won the stage by nearly a minute. Here are the final placings of U:S. riders in- the Giro that weren’t available as Velo-news last issue went to press: 43. Jacques Boyer @ 1:03:38; 78. Dan Franger @ 1:50:18 ; 99. John Eustice @ 2:17:58: 118. Michael Carter @ 2:42:52; 127 Karl Maxon @ 2:58:07; 141. Tim Rutledge @ 3:54:32: 143. Greg Saunders @ 4:29:08. (Sergio Penazzo photo)
All seven U.S. riders who started the Giro, finished. That Jacques Boyer made it, (reportedly in about 55th on final GC) was no surprise because he’s finished the Tour de France three times. His performance in the Giro was hindered by injuries.
But five of the six Americans on the Gianni Motta team were neo-pros who had never ridden a long professional stage race before. The Giro route totaled just under 4,000km.
Dan Franger of California was the highest placed among them in 78th overall and he finished eighth in the ranking of first-time riders. Captain John Eustice was 80th, Karl Maxon was just over 100th, but shone in the final TT by taking 13th. Michael Carter, Tim Rutledge and Greg Saunders finished toward the bottom. Saunders won the lanterne rouge award as the last finisher.
Now 32 years old, Moser first rode the Giro as a neo-pro in ’73. He has finished second twice, in ’77 and ’79, but has never won before. Given his age and tendency to lose time in the mountains, few gave him a chance of winning this year, or ever.
Moser started the race on a high note by winning the time trial prologue. But a Renault team victory in the first stage team time trial put Fignon into the pink race leader’s jersey. The 28-year-old Frenchman wore it until the end of stage five, where Moser left him behind on the final steep climb and regained the top spot.
From stage six through stage 19 – two full weeks- Moser held the overall lead.
Fignon mounted a crushing attack during the 20th stage in the Italian Alps and moved from two minutes down on Moser to nearly two minutes up with just two stages remaining.
Fignon won the mountains jersey and Swiss rider Urs Freuler won the points prize.
Complete results, further reports and photos are planned for upcoming issues of – Velo-news.