Saturday, January 9, 2010
Cycling Monuments, Memorials, Plaques, etc., Part V
Jac Zwart, author of the Dutch language book "Wielermonumenten - Reisgids door de geschiedenis van de wielersport" (Cycling Monuments - Travel Guide through the History of the Sport of Cycling), contributes his third article, this about Gaetano Belloni.
"Today, January 9 2010, it is exactly 30 years ago that Gaetano Belloni died in Milano. He was born in 1892 in Pizzighettone, a small town near Milano. The village of Pizzighettone honours Belloni by a plaquette which is placed on his house of birth, on the corner of the Via Confine and the Via San Pietro.
The plaquette shows all of his victories, but it also mentions him as "eternal second". That is mainly because he faced strong competition from another famous rider in these days: Costante Girardengo. Belloni has won the Giro di Lombardia three times. In 1915, when he won for the first time, he was still an amateur and because of the World War I the majority of the strongest riders were absent. History repeated itself in 1918 when there was hardly any rider from outside Italy at the start. Ten years later, at the end of his career, he managed to win the Giro di Lombardia for the third time, beating Alfredo Binda. So he really deserved his other nickname, "the champion of the falling leafs". But he had also success in Milano - San Remo. In 1917, in cold weather with pouring rain, he left Girardengo and the Swiss rider Oscar Egg behind on the Passo Turchino. He finished 12 minutes before Girardengo, who arrived in second place. The second time he won Milano - San Remo was in 1920, the same year he won the Giro d'Italia for the first and only time. That was also the first year that the Giro crossed the Italian borders. Only ten riders managed to finish that edition of the Giro; Belloni won three stages and in the final classification he had an advantage of more than half an hour on Angelo Gremo who finished second."
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