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Memories of Abruzzo, 2001: the Grande Partenza and Verbrugghe’s record


The Costa dei Trabocchi is decked out for the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia 2023. For both Fossacesia Marina and Ortona, the start and finish locations of the opening time trial, this is an absolute debut at the Giro d’Italia. It is not, however, for Abruzzo, which is not only used to hosting stages for the Corsa Rosa, but has also already experienced a Grande Partenza, back in 2001.

Back then too, the party started with a time trial, a prologue of 7.6 kilometres from Montesilvano Marina to Pescara, after which the race continued over the next few days to Giulianova, Francavilla al Mare and Fossacesia, before moving on to Puglia and Basilicata. But those first few kilometres have remained in the history of this competition thanks to Belgian Rik Verbrugghe of Lotto-Adecco, who set a record average speed of 58.874 km/h, which remains unbeaten to this day and only approached in recent years by Filippo Ganna.

The current sports director of Israel-PremierTech closed his race in 7’44”, 8″ ahead of Dario Frigo and 10 ahead of René Andrle. His great performance was further enhanced by the favourable wind, which was not so kind to the riders who hit the road later in the day.

Verbrugghe, who has won two other Giro stages in his career, namely in Versilia in 2002 and in Saltara in 2006, retained the Maglia Rosa for four days, before surrendering it to Frigo in the first altimetrically demanding stage. That Giro, however, was dominated by Gilberto Simoni, who took home his first Maglia Rosa ahead of Abraham Olano and Unai Osa.

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