Dino Zandegù is certainly one of the funniest and least clichéd characters the Giro d’Italia has come across in its 100-year history. But he was also a great racing protagonist at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, winning the points classification in the 1967 edition and a total of six stage victories. The last was in 1971, in the rather short 100km Ljubljana-Tarvisio.
That Giro had already brought him some joy, namely that of wearing his first and only career Maglia Rosa, after the inaugural Lecce-Brindisi time trial, which had allowed all the Salvarani athletes, led by captain Felice Gimondi, to wear the symbol of supremacy the following day. The joy, however, lasted only 24 hours, because in Bari his long-time rival Marino Basso won the stage and took the Rosa.
Revenge for Zandegù came, as mentioned, at Tarvisio, when, in a slightly uphill finish, he unleashed all his power by anticipating Gimondi and Basso himself. When I was on a good day, I could easily win, it’s a pity that I didn’t have many of those days – Zandegù told Marco Pastonesi with his usual irony in an interview a few years ago – The Tarvisio stage ended on a steep climb, at the last corner there was a bend, which I took with the idea of leading Gimondi out, I had to pull due to team orders but I pulled too hard and, just before the finish line, I turned behind, I saw Gimondi gritting his teeth and eating me with his eyes, I listened to my wild instinct, I thought of my parents and my seven sisters at home, and when I finished those nine thoughts I had already won ahead of Gimondi and Marino Basso. I felt conflicted then: towards Gimondi I was trembling with embarrassment, towards Basso I was bursting with happiness. It was a ‘beware of the dog’ kind of finish. That year I was so angry with Basso that when I got home, I stuck his sticker on the gate next to the ‘Beware of the dog’ sign”.
The 1971 Giro was won by Sweden’s Gösta Pettersson, ahead of Herman Van Springel and Ugo Colombo.