Giovanni Battaglin's 1981 Double,
Stylish & classy, wearing the Maglia Rosa...
The Giro d'Italia will be making it's 100th appearance this May 9th. Here's a story on one of my favorite riders from the seventies/eighties. Italian cyclist and well known frame builder, Giovanni Battaglin won 52 races between 1973 and 1984. His finest achievement was the 1981 Giro/Vuelta double.
His first year in 1973, saw the rouleur-climber or 'passista-scalatore' race very well in the Giro d'Italia. Not bad for the 21 year old finishing second on the Carpegna stage and solidifying his third place behind Felice Gimondi. That year nobody could touch or catch the winner, Merckx.
Joining Inoxpran in 1980 under the guidance of director sportif Luciano Pezzi, gave Battaglin the right tools to battle Hinault & Wladimiro Panizza to third overall.
His revenge would come...
The following year in 1981, at the age of 30 would be his finest year of his career. The Italian Inoxpran team was the only foreign team amongst a relatively weak Spanish field. The only real challenge for him was up the 30.5 km uphill Sierra Nevada time trial. He commented after tackling the freezing fog, "It was suffocating - you could've cut it with a knife." The superior Battaglin carried the leader's jersey, the amarillo jersey all the way to the finish in Madrid.
But, the Giro was tougher as he narrowly beat Tommy Prim (Bianchi-Paggio, by 38 seconds) & Beppe Saronni (Gis-Gelati, third at 50 seconds). "I gave it everything in the time trails and in the mountains, winning the stage in the Dolomites to San Vigilio di Marebbe and taking three third places," says Battaglin. He would go on to join the elite group of those who had won two of the major stage races in the same year.
Giovanni Battaglin shares that fine honor with; Eddy Merckx (1973) & Alberto Contador (2008)!
... and with the amarillo jersey!