Giro Under 23: heading for the Riviera with history and camaraderie en route
After the joyous prologue time trial in Forlì, the Giro d’Italia Under 23 Enel heads for the coast and Riccione, before doubling back again to Forlì on a none-too-difficult stage made edgy and intriguing by an eventful finale.
It is incredible how so many and varied cultural and even historic points of interest can be crammed into just a few dozen kilometres of Romagna. They range all the way from the fun yet hugely professional “Fun Factory” of Italy’s most appealing Riviera to the Sant’Arcangelo of Tonino Guerra, a great poet and screenwriter for Fellini, up to the Settecrociari “balcony”, the bolt hole of Giuseppe Ambrosini, former editor-in-chief of La Gazzetta dello Sport and, more importantly, the unforgotten and long-standing patron of the Giro d’Italia. Then, on to the rugged Bertinoro, the birthplace of Gaetano Curreri, front man of the band “Stadio” and long-time collaborator with Lucio Dalla and Vasco Rossi.
To ensure they don’t miss a thing, before the last dive towards the finish line, the riders also pass the Rocca delle Caminate and Predappio, where Benito Mussolini was born and is now buried.
At yesterday’s presentation there was talk of the Forlì-born winners of the Giro: one being Arnaldo Pambianco (who is actually from Bertinoro) and the other Ercole Baldini who was the world’s top cyclist for at least three years. He was so talented that, even as an amateur (when he was at the same level as the youngsters vying to win the Giro Under 23 Enel), he broke the hour record which obviously enough had previously been held by a pro rider, Jacques Anquetil who himself had taken it from Fausto Coppi.
This was in 1956 and, fresh from that particular triumph, Baldini quickly became the star of another sporting moment that quite rightly went down in both cycling lore and in history because of the sense of camaraderie, solidarity and emotion that it generated.
Having just crossed the finish line first in the road race at the Melbourne Olympics in Australia, Baldini found himself standing on a silent podium – the organisers had forgotten the recording of the Italian national anthem. But within a few seconds, the thousands of Italian emigrants in that far-off land spontaneously burst into song, belting out the national anthem with love, emotion and pride. Although the anthem never sounded so sweet, it only lasted a few seconds before being drowned in tears of unrepeatable joy. Baldini, a proud youngster of 85, will be at the finish line today.