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Giro ‘62 - La Terza Settimana

As is often the case in Grand Tour racing, the best was most definitely saved until last at the 1962 Giro. From the incessant attacks of Vito Taccone to the lacklustre defence of the Legnano team, read all about the great race’s final chapters here.

15.

Moena - Aprica
215km

The morning after the nightmare that had come before saw the riders awake to better weather in the picture postcard town of Moena. With the exertions of yesterday’s long slog through the snow weighing heavily on their legs, the riders were quite content with a quieter day on the Giro’s third Sunday.

Despite a tough route that included several major climbs, the first 130 kilometres of this stage were a procession before Vittori Adorni gambled his lunch for a slice of Giro glory at the feed. He sped away to win by over seven minutes while behind in the bunch it threatened to be a complete non-event until Vito Taccone turned up the heat.

He attacked five kilometres from the top of Passo Tonale and had gained three minutes on the GC group by the time he crossed the line. With Guido Carlesi and Henri Anglade faltering, Franco Balmamion finished with the group and entered the top ten on GC for the first time, quiet an achievement considering his losses on the second stage.

The Dolomites had been intriguing but ultimately inconclusive and with Charly Gaul now at home, the race was there to be won. But with six days remaining, it was still unclear who would make the race-winning move.

16.

Pian dei Resinelli
123km

The sixteenth stage saw the peloton roll down from the high mountains to the great lakes of Lombardy. The percorso was short but the steep final climb to Pian dei Resinelli, 1,300 metres above Lake Lecco was designed to scramble the general classification once again.

A single escapee took leave from the peloton on the stage’s early downhill section but the action began in earnest when the Spanish climber Soler took off in pursuit on the climb to Taceno. Spotting an opportunity, Balmamion latched onto his wheel along with a Swiss rider and the trio worked together to reel in the lone breakaway.

By the time they reached the final climb, the stage was Soler’s to lose. Knowing this, Balmamion cleverly decided to forgo the stage win in favour of maximising his gains over his GC rivals. Riding tempo up the climb was enough to drop his Swiss colleague and come in second, 1’27 behind Soler but three minutes ahead of the other favourites.

Much to Defilippis’ chagrin, Balmamion was now up to seventh on GC, just over two minutes behind his teammate and only a shade over four minutes from Battistini’s maglia rosa. While tensions mounted at Carpano, the Legnano team had Massignan in third position as well as Battistini and, with a full complement of five gregari still in the race, looked set to take home the jersey.

17.

Lecco - Casale Monferrato
194km

All set for a classic transition stage? With Battistini in pink and Massignan close behind in third on GC, the Legnano team certainly were. The seventeenth stage that transpired was quite different.

Still steaming at Balmamion’s march up the GC, Defilippis launched an attack early into the stage, forcing Legnano to chase and ride hard far sooner than they had expected. After 30 kilometres of cat and mouse, it was Battistini himself who made contact with the breakaway. Gruppo compatto.

But not for long. In the lull that followed a group of seven glory hunters escaped on the descent into Como, among them Carpano’s master passista Bailetti and Sartore – Franco’s roommate. When Faema’s Huub Zilverberg attacked from the bunch behind, Balmamion covered the move for his friends ahead but got more than he bargained for.

Though Zilverberg suffered a mechanical, Balmamion was quickly joined by another group of pursuers while the Legnano gregari, still recovering from their early chase, toiled behind. Franco followed the wheels and soon found himself at the front of the race where his immensely powerful teammates Bailetti and Conterno set about maximising his advantage.

Left behind in a peloton barely pulled along at all by the lagging Legnano team, Nino Defilippis raged at his Carpano director Giacotti, demanding that Balmamion, Bailetti and Conterno be called back to the peloton. Giacotti ignored him and only just managed to convince him not to abandon.

Neither Defilippis nor the stage win were of any concern to Balmamion. While stylish sprinter Pellegrini crossed the line first, Franco had gained an unlikely 6’44 on all of his GC rivals, launching him into the maglia rosa for the first time with an advantage of 2’21 over a shell shocked Battistini.

Later that evening, as half of his team celebrated quietly, Nino Defilippis was brought back from the brink of abandoning only by the lure of a lucrative cheque from the team’s owner. As the race head for the Piedmontese Alps was Balmamion’s greatest threat now his own teammate?

General Classification

After stage sixteen:

Position Name Team Time
1. Graziano Battistini Legnano 92hr 22' 31"
2. José Pérez-Francés Ferrys +0' 31"
3. Imerio Massignan Legnano +1' 18"
4. Nino Defilippis Carpano +2' 20"
5. Vito Taccone Atala +3' 17"
6. Ercole Baldini Moschettieri +3' 42"
7. Franco Balmamion Carpano +4' 23"
8. Henry Anglade Liberia-Grammont +5' 03"
9. Vittorio Adorni Philco +5' 13"
10. Antonio Suarez Ghigi +7' 54"

18.

Casale Monferrato - Frabosa Soprana
232km

Having only taken it the previous day, the maglia rosa of Franco Balmamion would come under significant pressure today as a puncture suffered by Defilippis prompted a wave of attacks from Carpano’s GC rivals. Vito Taccone was chief amongst them surging away with 70 kilometres remaining to be joined later by Massignan, Pérez-Francés, Adorni and Neri.

At the bottom of the final climb the quintet had thirty seconds. Balmamion faced an interminable 16-kilometre pursuit to save the jersey. He alone was responsible for chasing but he waited, and waited, and still waited. Riding in the company of Antonio Suárez and Angelino Soler, Ghigi’s duo of dominant Spanish climbers, he was banking on them taking an interest in the stage win.

Eventually, Soler, who stood to earn himself a holiday to Brazil if he won the intermediate sprints classification, was intent on scoring more points and soon set his teammate Suárez to work. He rode Balmamion and Soler back into contention and while the Spaniard soared to a third stage win, Franco was relieved to cede only a handful of seconds to his rivals. Just two days to go.

19.

Frabosa Soprana - Saint-Vincent
193km

Save for the final seven-kilometre ramp into the resort town of Saint-Vincent, this stage was completely flat and therefore well outside Franco Balmamion’s comfort zone. Knowing this and set upon costing his Balmamion and Carpano the Giro, Nino Defilippis did his worst and lit the blue touchpaper as the race passed Turin.

His attacked split the peloton to pieces and when the dust settled, Franco was on the wrong side of the gap. Had it not been for an impromptu alliance between the Philco and IGNIS teams, the race might not have come back together. But Balmamion, getting the luck he deserved, was reunited with his errant teammate 20 kilometres up the road while another Carpano man surged ahead to take their second stage win.

It was Giuseppe Sartore who overcame the disappointment of having to sit up and wait for Defilippis on stage 17 to take the greatest win of his career and make Balmamion’s day. Heading into the last competitive stage, he was within touching distance of final victory in Milan’s Vigorelli velodrome and two and half million lire prize.

That money would go some way to improving his uncle Ettore’s mood. After being convinced to venture out on a rare trip to see his nephew race, he’d had his wallet and the 60,000 lire in it stolen.

20.

Saint-Vincent - Saint-Vincent
238km

At 5.30am, Franco Balmamion and Nino Defilippis are woken ahead of the final competitive stage of the Giro. After an unusually early breakfast, Giacotti sets out the plan for the day: to protect the team’s maglia rosa and ensure they take it all the way to Milan.

The gregari Conterno, Barale and, if possible, Bailetti are all enlisted to help while Sartore is required only to survive following his efforts en route to the stage win yesterday. Sittin in third overall, Defilippis is expected to keep a watching brief, chase down any attacks from Legnano or Taccone and, if the opportunity presents itself, go for the stage win. Crystal clear.

It took all of a few hours for Giacotti’s requests to fall on deaf ears as the mutinous Defilippis attacked on the second climb of the day. Equal to it, Balmamion calmly followed and it was actually Carpano’s adversaries – Battistini and Pérez-Francés – who fell behind. Not for the first time in the race, Defilippis had strengthened Balmamion’s position in an attempt to weaken it.

Franco now led the virtual standings from Massignan, Nino and Taccone, all of whom were present in the elite group of eleven riders making their way along a 50-kilometre valley section before the final climb. Balmamion was almost there but could still lose the Giro if the other contenders conspired against him.

To mitigate against the malice of his teammate, Balmamion struck a deal with two other men in the group to ride for him in the valley. Such deals were, and probably still are, commonplace in cycling but it was money well spent so far as Balmamion was concerned and he arrived at the foot of the climb still in touch.

All that remained was to let his rivals battle it out for the podium places. In the end, Defilippis punctured, heaping insult upon injury, while Massignan rallied to consolidate his second place on GC, with Taccone missing the podium by just 19 seconds. Balmamion had done it. Down and out on the second stage, he’d fought his way back, overcome the obscenities thrown at him by his teammate, disproved the doubters and taken the most unlikely Giro title in history.

21.

Saint-Vincent - Milan
160km

Cycling tradition hasn’t always dictated that the final stage of a Grand Tour is processional. The final stage of the 1962 Giro d’Italia saw plenty of attackers launch a final bid for glory but happily for Franco Balmamion, he had his loyal teammates Bailetti and Sartore chasing them down.

After spending the day glowering in the bunch, Defilippis ended up finishing seventh, short of the last hurrah the team had hoped for a but an impressive showing nonetheless. Guido Carlesi once again showed his class in taking the stage while Balmamion was officially unveiled as the Giro’s latest champion.

The assembled press were stunned but Franco saw no need to apologise for being champion: “I won the Giro for one reason and one reason only – because I was the strongest. Anyway at the end I was just tired; I was happy, but I wanted to get home to celebrate with my family and friends.”

Final Classification

Position Name Team Time
1. Franco Balmamion Carpano 123hr 7' 03"
2. Imerio Massignan Legnano +03' 57"
3. Nino Defilippis Carpano +5' 02"
4. Vito Taccone Atala +5' 21"
5. Vittorio Adorni Philco +7' 11"
6. José Pérez-Francés Ferrys +7' 29"
7. Ercole Baldini Moschettieri +7' 54"
8. Graziano Battistini Legnano +8' 05"
9. Guido Carlesi Philco +14' 22"
10. Armand Desmet Faema-Flandria +15' 55"
DNF Charly Gaul Gazzola -

Climbers Classification

Position Name Team Time
1. Angelino Soler Ghigi 260 points
2. Joseph Carrara Liberia-Grammont 100 points
3. Vincenzo Meco San Pellegrino 60 Points

Stay tuned for more Giro ‘62 stories as we bring you the race’s defining moments.

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