Tortona exudes cycling history and brings to mind two legends of the sport, Fausto Coppi and Costante Girardengo. The Giro d’Italia has chosen it as a stage arrival on two occasions: in 1989, 70 years after Coppi’s birth, and in 2017, in the centenary edition. It will return there this year, to celebrate 100 years since Girardengo’s second victory and 100 years since the birth of Serse Coppi, Fausto’s brother, who tragically died in 1951 after a crash at the Giro del Piemonte.
In 2017, Fernando Gaviria arrived with his arms raised, in what was one of the most prolific periods of his career. It was stage 13 and the Colombian, then in the Quick-Step Floors jersey, took his fourth victory in that triumphant edition of the Corsa Rosa, in which he also won the Maglia Ciclamino of the points classification. On that day, the race started from Reggio Emilia and arrived in Tortona, after 167 km completely flat, without even a single KOM, in the most classic of transfer stages.
The breakaway featured two riders who are now at the top of the game, namely Matej Mohoric and Vincenzo Albanese, but their fate was doomed from the start. In the sprint Gaviria had to go head-to-head with Caleb Ewan, who also forced him to stop pedalling, but that year the 22-year-old Colombian was so strong that all he needed to do was accelerate in the last 80 metres to put everyone behind him. “Ewan? These things happen… the important thing is not to lose heart” he said immediately after the finish.
That was the penultimate success for Gaviria at the Giro d’Italia, since he also managed to impose himself in Orbetello in 2019, after Elia Viviani was stripped of his first position. His personal story with the Giro is still being written though, and this year the Colombian will have the chance to add important pages. A little less young than back then, but still hungry for glory!