Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gran Fondo Internazionale Charly Gaul

The Gran Fondo Internazionale Charly Gaul, starting in Trento, was held August 9th. The gran fondo features the Monte Bondone climb made famous in the 1956 Giro d'Italia by Gaul, the "Angel of the Mountains".

The writer Roger St Pierre said of Gaul in the bad weather of that day in which a stage through the Dolomites ended with the 12 km climb of Monte Bondone: "Charly averaged just four miles an hour over the final uphill kilometres of that murderous stage (ed. note that took more than 9 hours) and collapsed at the finish, being taken off to the welcome warmth of his hotel, wrapped in a blanket. But he had assured his overall victory by beating his closest challenger on that nightmarish day by many minutes. The rest of the field was spread-eagled over several hours, some even having stopped for warm baths en route!".

Gaul moved from 11th to first place. Jacques Goddet wrote in L'Équipe: "This day surpassed anything seen before in terms of pain, suffering and difficulty."

Forty-six of the eighty-nine starters would not finish that day which started with light snow, turning into a blizzard with the temperature dropping to 0C on Monte Bondone.

Video, in Italian, of the 1956 Monte Bondone stage (begins at 2:11 of the video, Monte Bondone begins at 5:00; the earlier part of the video is of the previous stage on the Stelvio); Charly Gaul in FAEMA jersey:

Many of the gran fondos in Italy have a wonderful history behind them!

Photos: 2009 Gran Fondo Internazionale Charly Gaul (by Newspower Canon)

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact


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  2. Interesting in light of this great victory that Gaul climbed off his bike during the blizzard that stuck stage 14 of the 1962 Giro, which went over 7 passes, including a finish over the Rolle, Valles, and San Pelligrino climbs in quick succession. That stage, like that Giro, had seemed tailor-made for Gaul: zero time trials and more chock full of climbs than you Grandma's cookies have chocolate chips. 54 riders survived that 14th stage; 56 quit, with one rider estimating that perhaps as few as 20 had actually ridden to the finish. Gaul had apparently assumed the stage would be canceled rather than run to completion, hence his abandonment. This info courtesy of Herbie Sykes' great book, "The Eagle of the Canavese." (Franco Balmamion stuck it out through stage 14 and eventually won that '62 Giro - does he have a Gran Fondo?)