Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bullying Merckx

How did a man with a "Mad Heart" beat the cannibal? Well it was an Italian job of course. What am i going on about? Well the 1970's Race of the Fall of the Autumn Leaves or Giro di Lombardia. This is the race that more or less closes out the season. Our swan song before six day racing and sort days forcing us to dream about next years racing again.
Surprisingly Merckx only wore his national jersey one year during his dominance of cycling and it was 1970. Buy the tifosi yearned for a local to take their home race and another legend Felice Gimondi was outsprinted by Franco Bitossi. This is a character that I really do plan on reading up on, as he had a bit of a heart flutter and this saw him standing and waiting on the side of the road during races to get his heart rate down from 220! There is no other sport that has the amount of history and stories like cycling. No footballer or athlete simply stops in the middle of an event and still goes on to win the day.
Merckx had created the break away on one of the cobbled climbs but during the racing Gimondi and Bitossi went away and they stayed away due to the rest of the group not willing to help Merckx to pull them back. He worked all the way in true Merckian style but it was not to be his day as Motta also got away to take third spot on the podium. Bitossi was obviously spurned on by the Italian crowd and the fact that he was wearing the National Champions jersey, his heart problems staying away on the day and he beat Gimondi to the line. The last Britain to end in the top ten for the next two decades saw Billy Bilsland take 10th place and a pay rise for the next year.
Merckx would get the last laugh though and pull of a rare double of winning the Giro di Lombardia while attired in the Rainbow jersey. Chapeau

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