We’ve all heard the legends of Coppi and Bartali but the period that followed their retirement is a far less well known chapter in the history of Italian cycling. Even some of the great riders of this era have been largely forgotten, but not by Herbie Sykes.
An avid collector of rare cycling jerseys, Sykes was in Turin aiming to add to his collection when he became aware of a two-time Giro winner who nobody seemed to know. Franco Balmamion was, like Sykes, a fan of Turin’s second football team and, unbeknown to all but the most encyclopedic of fans, he had won the Giro in 1962 and 1963. Determined to meet him and hopeful of securing one of his jerseys, Sykes vowed to write a book all about him.
Balmamion draws on a unique collection of priceless memorabilia to set the scene in a country still searching for its next cycling campionissimo. Sykes plots the early years of Franco’s career before attentions turn to the 1962 Giro that made his name. Insightful stage summaries are accompanied by each edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport from throughout the race as Balmamion’s race ebbs and flows from a near knock-out blow on the second stage to a most unexpected victory three weeks later.
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