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Memories from… Prati di Tivo, 1975: Battaglin’s solo action towards the Maglia Rosa


We have learned to appreciate the Prati di Tivo climb at the Tirreno-Adriatico (and this year also at the Giro d’Abruzzo), but let’s not forget its thrilling precedent at the Giro d’Italia. It was 1975, Stage 3, from Ancona to this unprecedented climb at the foot of a snow-capped Gran Sasso. The absence of the stars of the time, Eddy Merckx and Francesco Moser, ensured a very open edition and Prati di Tivo was the first head-to-head clash between the big names.

The most eagerly awaited were the experienced Felice Gimondi, the yet-to-be-deciphered rising star Gianbattista Baronchelli and the surprising Spanish climber Francisco Galdós, who had beaten Merckx a few weeks earlier at the Tour of Romandie. The first to attack was 23-year-old Giovanni Battaglin, who broke away from main group, won his first stage at the Giro and wore his first Maglia Rosa, snatching it from the shoulders of his Norwegian domestique Knut Knudsen. The Veneto climber closed with 21 seconds ahead of Galdós and more than two minutes ahead of Gimondi and Baronchelli.

“Is this what Baronchelli is all about? – said Battaglin after the finish, “If he took more than two minutes today, how many will he take on the Stelvio?”. In fact, that was not Baronchelli’s Giro, he would only finish 10th, far from the fight for the Maglia Rosa, but it was not Battaglin’s either.

Giovanni, in fact, lost the lead the following day to Galdós, only to take it back in Stage 13, in the Forte dei Marmi time trial. Acclaimed by everyone as the great favourite for the overall victory, Battaglin had a bad crisis during the time trial at Il Ciocco, dropping out of the GC and paving the way to the final triumph for his surprising team-mate, Fausto Bertoglio, who would win the Maglia Rosa, by far the biggest success of his career.

Battaglin would have to wait until 1981 to win his first and only Giro d’Italia, in the historic and magical year in which he also won the Vuelta a España.


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