On the start line in Milan there were the best foreign riders and the Italians of the new generation after Coppi, Bartali and Magni such as Nencini, winner of the last Giro, Baldini, Fornara and Astrua. In the first week a series of attacks and counterattacks followed one another with six different Maglie Rosa in six days. In the Viareggio time trial Baldini was outstanding and from then on he kept the race under control since he also proved to be a climber in Boscochiesanuova and confirmed as such in Bolzano, at the end of the traditional Dolomite stage. He arrived first in Milan, followed by Brankart and Gaul.
An important innovation was introduced by the organization which would have washed out all the objections that normally rose upon turbulent field finish. Longines tried out the “Chronocinegines”, later to be called “fotofinish”, which filmed when the riders crossed the finish line indicating the time, at the hundredth of a second.
The 1958 Giro Route
1959 featured an extremely high quality foreign participation, while the Italian riders did not meet the expectations and the result was a huge debacle. For the first time the Maglia Rosa was worn by foreign athletes from the first to the last stage: the Italian riders won only nine stages. Gaul and Anquetil wore the Maglia Rosa alternatively but in the 296-km Aosta-Courmayeur Gaul worked a miracle crossing the finish line ahead of Anquetil with an advantage of almost ten minutes and arrived first in Milan, followed by the same Anquetil and then by Ronchini.
The Italian fans showed a petty nationalism and the great protagonists of the Giro were not given their well-deserved celebration in the half-empty Vigorelli. A novelty was the Istituto di Credito Sportivo bank-car: a bank counter for the entire caravan that provided the organizational machine with a touch of modernity.
In honour of the XIV Olympic Games in Rome, the Giro chose the Capital as its Grand start city. The President of the Republic, Giovanni Gronchi, gave the start to a Giro which soon saw the Italian hope fading, with only Nencini trying to fill the gap to Anquetil, determined to get his revenge from the previous year. Anquetil was superb in the Brianza time trial and Gaul responded with much vigour in the Bormio stage, that included the Gavia climb for the first time. In Milan Anquetil arrived first, followed by Nencini and Gaul.
Before the start in Rome, Coppi, Cougnet and Orio Vergani, who had recently passed away, were celebrated with a moving ceremony, since these three figures, in differente fields, had enhanced the epic of the Giro. A terrible fact left its mark on the Brianza stage when two children crossed the road as Torriani’s car was coming and both lost their lives.
The Spanish riders, Poblet and Suarez, made attacks against the Maglia Rosa performed by the young Balmamion and Taccone vain. In the Taranto time trial Anquetil was superior to all, but in Florence a small group of athletes, including Pambianco, were able to force the French rider to leave the Maglia Rosa. Pambianco slowly increased his advantage and in the Bormio stage he took three minutes of advantage over Anquetil, thus arriving in Milan as winner, followed by Anquetil e Suarez.
The Centenary of the Unity of Italy was the underlying theme of this Giro. Adverse weather conditions marked the whole Giro and Torriani was forced to cancel the Gavia climb while on the Stelvio pass the athletes had to ride between two high snow walls, running a constant avalanche danger. Last but not least, at the Vigorelli there was an exceptional Stage Miss: the American actress Joan Crawford, winner of an Oscar and “star” of the time.
In the beginning, the Italian riders suffered from foreign superiority once again, at first with Suarez and then with Armand Desmet, who became first on the general classification and everybody felt he was unassailable. But in the 14th stage with the finish line in Moena, a storm decimated the bunch on the early climbs and, with over 50 riders abandoning the race, the Organization decided to stop the stage on the Rolle Pass with Meco, from the Abruzzi, hero of the day. The Giro was conquered in the plain, in Casale Monferrato, where the 22 years old Balmamion ousted Battistini. He grabbed the victory in Milan, followed by another young promising athlete, Imerio Massignan, and Nino Defilippis.
Vincenzo Torriani wanted to convey a strong message: the Giro had an immense possibility to promote the tourist potential of Italy. To make this possibility more glaring, he made up fantasy names for the stage towns such as The Fairy-tale Bay in Sestri Levante in memory of Andersen, the Holy Valley in Rieti, the Ride across the Pale Mountains in the Dolomite stage, the Valle d’Aosta Terrasses to indicate the mountains of that region.
The 1963 Giro marked out for the heated debate between the Italian Cycling Union (UVI) and the Professional Cycling League: the UVI did not acknowledge the independence of the Professional Cycling League, that had recognized Marino Fontana as the legitimate Italian Champion versus Bruno Mealli, declared champion by the UVI. The Giro carried on with changing fortunes with Adorni who seemed most likely to win the Giro. Ultimately Franco Balmamion, aged only twenty-three, was able to win his second Giro, followed by Adorni and Zancanaro.
The RAI TV improved the shootings of the race, also in motion, producing a post-race Tv programm, “Il processo alla tappa”, presented by Sergio Zavoli. It was a brilliant innovation which made a radical change in television sport reports.
After the 1961 disappointment, when Pambianco won the Giro of the Centenary of the Unity of Italy, Anquetil came back with the intention to get his revenge. The Norman dominated the time trial in Baganzola and then controlled the race easily, though the new generation, above all Motta and Zilioli, did their best to put him on the spot. Anquetil arrived first in Milan, followed by Zilioli and De Rosso.
In the Cuneo-Pinerolo stage, that Torriani included again in memory of Coppi, Franco Pitossi led a solo breakaway for over 150 kilometres. The riders complained in the Pedavena stage, as they had to ride some sections of dust roads and were involved in many crashes and had a huge number of punctures.
The 1964 Giro Route
For the first time the Giro started out abroad, namely in San Marino. There were just a few foreign riders. Vittorio Adorni finally found a continuity that he did not have in the previous editions of the Giro and he sealed his victory with three excellent feats: in Potenza, in Taormina time trial, but mostly in the 282-km Madesimo stage with the Furka, the San Gottardo, the San Bernardino and the Spluga. Also the young rider Felice Gimondi came to the fore. He arrived third in Milan, following Italo Zilioli.
The Madesimo-Solda stage route was to be changed, placing the arrival on the Pass, because of the danger of avalanche on the Stelvio, avalanche which happened effectively and blocked the road 300 metres before the finish. The Stelvio 2,757 metres were dedicated to the Campionissimo, by naming the summit “Cima Coppi”. Ever since it has become the highest summit representing the prestigious moral finish of every Giro. The tradition of entertainment continued and that year the Cetra Quartet with the Gorni Kramer’s orchestra were the invited artists.
The main theme of the 49th edition of the Giro d’Italia was the thirty-two years-old Jacques Anquetil challenging the Italian young riders: Motta, Zilioli, Dancelli and Zilioli. Anquetil in the first stage and Gimondi in the third one, lost over three minutes on the other favourites, thus compromising their chance to get the final victory. On the Dolomite climbs a more brilliant and younger Gianni Motta kept the lead and wore the well-deserved Maglia Rosa till Trieste, where he arrived first followed by Zilioli and Anquetil.
The Grand Start in Montecarlo was a special occasion, with the presence of Prince Ranieri and Princess Grace. The night presentation of the teams was broadcasted in Eurovision in the context of the celebration of the City Centenary. Besides the sport event, a singing show was also arranged: the 1st Girofestival, presented by Mike Buongiorno, with the singing celebrities of the time following the Giro.
The 1966 Giro Route
The first stage of Milan, for which a big celebration for the Fiftieth Anniversary had been organized, had to be cancelled due to a protest by the extra-parlamentary left wing led by the publisher Feltrinelli. Then the Giro started from Treviglio the following day and, from then on, great agonism was performed on a number of occasions, also because of a fighting group of foreign riders such as young Merckx. The Giro was won by Felice Gimondi, followed by Balmamion and Anquetil.
The finish in Salerno was spoiled by the excess of the public who invaded the home stretch, causing a crash that involved several riders who suffered from several fractures. In the last kilometres of the Udine – Tre Cime di Lavaredo stage, as the public was very indisciplined, the regularity of the race was compromised so the general classification was left unchanged. The point classification was enhanced by introducing the Maglia Rossa, sponsored by Birra Dreher.