Il Lombardia to honour Felice Gimondi’s 70th birthday with Bergamo start
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Il Lombardia to honour Felice Gimondi’s 70th birthday with Bergamo start

by Ben Atkins at 9:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Fall Classics, Giro di Lombardia
Race of the falling leaves to pay tribute to two-time winner with its earlier date

felice gimondiThe moving of the Giro di Lombardia - or ‘il Lombardia’ as it is now officially called - forward two weeks was not popular with everybody, but its new date of September 29th for 2012 has certainly pleased some. Although the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’ will doubtless see most of Lombardy’s trees still green, its new place in the calendar - which was brought about to avoid a conflict with the Tour of Beijing - does clash with one event: the 70th birthday of Italian cycling legend Felice Gimondi.

To commemorate this special day, the race will start in the former World champion’s hometown of Bergamo; the city that hosted the race’s finish between 1995 and 2003.

“To honour Gimondi and celebrate his birthday, I asked the organisers RCS Sport/La Gazzetta dello Sport to hold the start of Il Lombardia in Bergamo,” said Roberto Formigoni, the governor of the Lombardia Region.

In addition to his 1973 World championship victory, Gimondi is one of only five riders in history to have won all three Grand Tours. His Tour de France win of 1965 saw the 22-year-old Italian burst onto the scene, as the youngest post-war winner of the race. He followed this with his first Giro d’Italia victory in 1967, a Vuelta a España win in in 1968 - his one and only appearance in the race - and then his second and third Giri in 1969 and 1976.

He also finished second in the 1972 Tour, and finished on the second and third steps of the Giro podium no fewer than six times.

Gimondi was not just a man for the Grand Tours however, as he also won Paris-Roubaix in 1966, Milano-Sanremo in 1974, and was Italian champion in 1966 and 1972; but it is his two Lombardia victories, in 1966 and 1973 - the second of which as World champion - that make this tribute so appropriate.

“We are happy to take up the request from the Governor of Lombardia and were convinced Felice and Bergamo will be happy to welcome the start of a great classic like Il Lombardia,” said Mauro Vegni, the technical director of the race.

Like the Ronde van Vlaanderen - and unlike the other three ‘Monuments’, Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège - Il Lombardia has no fixed points dictated by its name. Where the moving of the Ronde’s finish this year - for the first time in 39 years - provoked uproar from many quarters in Flanders, the regular change to Lombardia’s route has caused no such controversy.

This year’s edition will be the second to finish in the lakeside city of Lecco, having switched from nearby Como last year. The 2011 edition of the race was won by Swiss rider Oliver Zaugg (then of Leopard Trek, now of RadioShack-Nissan) taking by far the biggest victory of his career.


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