The 1968 Giro was characterized by the clear superiority of the Famea team, mostly with Eddy Merkx, who in Novara, stage 1, was the protagonist of an outstanding finish. The finish at the Arenaccia in Naples consacrated the rising star Merckx with a warmly welcoming crowd: he was to become the uncontested dominating rider of the cycling scene for a decade.
For the first time in the Giro, antidoping tests were carried out in some stages. The outcomes, though, were communicated only at the end of the race and caused some perplexity and dispute. Even after some counter-tests, Delisle, Motta, Abt, Bodrero, Van Schil, Galera, Diaz and Di Toro were proven positive. These riders were disqualified for a month and banned from all the Giro classifications. Gimondi and Balmamion, although positive in the first antidoping test, were later acquitted for errors of form.
The 1969 edition cannot be considerate as a fortunate one. There were many negative events: the collapse of a guests tribune at the Terracina finish which caused the death of a young rider, Giancarlo Manzi, the protests in Naples which did not allow the regular start of that stage, Eddy Merckx tested positive in the antidoping check and then banned from the race, the bad weather at the Trento-Marmolada stage which was canceled in the end. After the disqualification of Merckx, Gimondi became the leader and defended the Maglia Rosa till the end in Vigorelli, where he was followed by Michelotto and Zilioli.
The Trento-Marmolada stage, with the finish line in Malga Ciapela and the Duran, Staulanza, Giau (Cima Coppi) and Falzarego Passes, was scheduled on Thursday 5th June. The start was given at 8.30 but at 1 p.m., because of the adverse weather conditions, the Organization decided to change the route that would go then through Fiera di Primiero. There the weather forecast was worsening and Torriani decided to stop the race, neutralizing the 104 kilometers already covered and cancelled the 21st stage.
Eddy Merckx, after having been disqualified the year before, came back to the Giro intending to show his undisputed superiority. He conquered the Maglia Rosa with a spectacular feat on the Polsa di Brentonico, he increased his advantage with the time trial of Bassano del Grappa-Treviso and defended his place fiercely till Bozen, an unusual epilogue of the Giro. Gimondi arrived second, followed by Vandenbossche.
Bozen was the last finish for Vittorio Adorni, a protagonist for ten years, who completed in 10th place. After four years of Dreher sponsoring the race and the stage leader’s Maglia Rossa, the point classification changed sponsor. Termozeta replaced Dreher and the Maglia Rossa changed colour..from red to “Cyclamen-coloured”.
Gimondi, the favourite of the eve, had an unexpected opponent, his team mate Motta. The other teams as Molteni, Filotex and above all Ferretti with the Swedish rider Pettersson took advantage of the situation. Pettersson with his careful and regular conduct was able to prevail overtly over Van Springel who arrived second in Milan, followed by Colombo.
The antidoping tests went on and besides Motta, also Lucillo Lievore tested positive. But the sanction was moderate and instead of banning, riders were given a 10’ penalty and their stage results were cancelled. For the first time the Giro had a stage in Austria with the Grossglokner tough winding road.
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The 1971 Giro Route
The main theme of the Giro was the fierce rivalry between Manuel Fuente and Eddy Merckx, which came to an end with the victory of Merckx, thanks to his great stage in Catanzaro. As a matter of fact, in the last meters of the Montescuro Pass, the Belgian rider made a sprint and Gösta Petterson was the only one that replied, while all the other riders were hopelessly left behind. Eddy Merckx arrived first in Milan, followed by Fuente and then by Francisco Galdos Gauna. The Italian riders were disappointing, in particular Gimondi, who was definitely under his standard.
On the Jafferau climb there were many irregularities on the riders part. The Jury was inflexible, disqualifying many riders: Zilioli, Motta and Bitossi among the popular ones.
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The 56th Giro took place under the auspices of the European Community. Hence the Grand Start was in Belgium and, after going through Holland, a few stages were in Germany, Luxembourg and France. The athletic participation was of extremely high standard, but Eddy Merckx stood out above everybody else. After the first time trial in pairs stage in Verviers, that he won with Swerts, he got hold of the Maglia Rosa and wore it until the last stage of Trieste, winning the Giro followed by Gimondi and Battaglin.
The Princess Paola of Liège was the starter in Verviers. After the transfer to Geneva, the riders went to Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel. The Road Police escorting the Giro was formed of road patrols from the different countries through which the race went, till the Giro came to Italy. There was wide cooperation and in Aosta the European escort completed its task. The customs officers showed great understanding, anticipating a practice that thirty years later would become the rule.
The 57th Giro d’Italia kicked off from the Vatican. The riders paid homage to the Holy Father Paul VI and then started the race. The duel between Fuente and Merckx was the main theme of the race. Fuente created a huge gap on the winding road of Monte Faito but Merckx capitalized on the mistakes of his Spanish opponent, who too often was driven by his enthusiasm. But the real revelation was Gianbattista Baronchelli’s conduct: he lost by only 13’’ and arrived second in Milan followed by Gimondi.
The Best Climber classification’s leader wore a Maglia Verde for the first time. The Bavaria Film made a film about the life and the different aspects of the race and it was screened all over the world. The day following the completion of the Giro, in Milan, a city circuit called “Epilogue of the Giro” was disputed. It was not valid for the general classification, but the Giro’s survived riders honoured it and it proved to be greatly successful.
A few hours before the start, Molteni gave up for a sudden ailment of Merckx, thus the Giro lost a great protagonist. But the combativity of the Spanish riders and the fight between Bertoglio and Battaglin drew a lot of interest in the race, so much as the Belgian riders Sercu, De Vlaeminck and Rik Van Linden who won eleven stages. The Giro, after changing fortunes, got to the last stage: the finish line was on the Stelvio Pass (2.757 metres) where Bertoglio stopped the last attack of the Spanish rider Galdos, winning the Giro before Galdos and Gimondi.
After twelve years the Italian Flag Classification was replaced with the Classification of the Regions Championship. At the end of every stage the rider who got most points on a number of special sprints was the Champion of the Region that the stage had crossed. He wore a blue jersey with a vertical Italian flag.
The Giro was again in Sicily with a Grand Start from Catania. Like in the previous year, the Belgians proved to be almost unrivalled and won eleven stages. Johan De Muynck threatened Gimondi until the last day. Despite a crash and being less in shape on the Dolomites, the rider from Bergamo was able to win, though only by 19’’, over his Belgian opponent in the last stage.
During the first half-stage of Catania, unfortunately the Spanish rider Juan Manuel Santisteban fell, hit his head against a guardrail and died. In all stages longer than 131 km, when passing the banner indicating this kilometer, a special bonus sprint was arranged: the leader on this classification was awarded with a FIAT 131. The Giro also staged a touring show, and Raul Casadei with his orchestra would drive the last kilometer of the stage route in a special truck; then, every evening, the performers had a show in a theatre of the stage town.
The 60th Giro was characterized by a high number of half-stages. Freddy Maertens, the dominating rider in the first part of the Giro, with seven wins out eleven finishes, at the end of the 8th stage was involved in a crash and had to pull out of the race. The Belgian Flandria riders were in any case superior to everybody, the only Moser trying to contrast them. But in the time trial of Binago he had to bow to the Belgian Michel Pollentier, who won the Giro before Moser and Baronchelli.
After alternating decisions made in the past, the Maglia Bianca for the Best Young Rider Classification was ultimately institutionalized. In the time trial stages, Longines, an innovative company since ever, broadcasted the riders’ times superimposed and live on television for the first time.