“We drank to excess yesterday, let’s drink more moderately today.” Take out the unusual names and the dramatization and the scene becomes familiar. Perhaps somewhere in the world, right now, at some festival or party, a similar conversation is taking place. And if one were to read Plato’s words to the present day participants, perhaps they might even empathize with the protagonists, and understand the symptoms which lead to their agreement. Two thousand years of history have not been enough to alter humanity’s relationship with alcohol, the liver, and hangovers.
The short clip linked to above, of the 1957 Giro d’Italia, left me with a sensation similar to the one I found reading Plato’s introduction to the Symposium.
Fifty-seven years have passed. Bicycles are now made of carbon fiber, riders wear skinsuits tested in wind tunnels, and they tweet their feelings after a stage. Despite all those and many other things, I was surprised by how familiar everything felt. The difficulty of a grand tour, the effects of weather, the confidence or lack of confidence in one’s form, crashes and injuries, strengths and weaknesses, the course, general classification predictions– it is almost as if nothing has changed in the sport. The Giro is the same script, interpreted again, each year, by new actors.
After eleven stages, for a total of 2136 kilometers, first day of rest for the 40th Giro d’Italia. A rest truly well-deserved for the 97 competitors left in the race after the high medians sustained in the last few days. A large part of the riders have already brought themselves to Forte dei Marmi. Others, instead, have remained in Montecatini. Among these last, Louison Bobet, who has taken advantage of the rest day to go visit an old friend.
Two great champions meet at Montecatini. Fausto Coppi, who has won five tours of Italy, and who this year, injured, cannot take part. And Louison Bobet, winner of three tours of France, who attempts for the first time the conquest of the Giro, that until now has escaped him. Fausto Coppi himself will do the welcoming honors for the Frenchman.
Good day, how does it go?
Well, it goes well, this morning– may I talk in French?
Maybe it is better, I could talk in French, but I don’t understand very well– I don’t explain myself very well.
Yes, yes, yes. Better than I. Than me. I’m sorry. And so…
How do you find this Giro d’Italia?
I find it very rapid, it resembles very much the tour of France right now, we are going 50 km/h every day, we depart at 50km/h, I don’t know how we will climb up the Dolomites, but I believe that [?], that some seconds are more important.
I think that now, the riders no longer fear the champions, and so they attack every day, and this is the reason why it is so fast. And you?
It’s true, it’s true, it’s correct. I believe that now there is much less difference between a first class rider and a second class rider. And so one has many [?], it is very normal.
I believe the same thing, that there is not that much difference, as you say, and above all the roads, the gears, and all the rest, let’s say.
Yes, it’s true, there are many etceteras and etceteras.
I am very glad to see that you are carrying yourself well, you have a good figure, and possibly you will [?] the Tour of Lombardy, [?].
Yes, I hope.
What do you think of tomorrow’s stage?
Well, I think it will be very difficult, characterized by a route that is not very [?], but will have much wind. And I think that a rider like Baldini may be able to take the pink jersey, [?] two minutes [?] on Defilippis, it is very little, I believe.
He says that tomorrow’s stage is not very difficult, but he judges it also very difficult because there will be wind. And he thinks that Baldini will take the pink jersey. I, for my part, judge that Baldini is the favorite, number one, but from here to taking the pink jersey seems a little difficult to me, because also the others which are in classification for sixty kilometers should be able to hold.
Yes, it’s true. [?] And Defilippis is a very good rider [?], and he is very courageous, who will want to defend his pink jersey with tenacity. In closing, I think that Baldini will also want to do a great thing, [?] all the Italians [?], it will be very difficult, sure, but the whole world [?], Baldini [?] climbs well in the hills and [?] rolls in the flats.
He says that Baldini has a big responsibility, that all the Italian sportsmen hope that Baldini will take my suggestion, and also that of Bartali and Magni, naturally, and this will incite him to do very well. And he also says that he hopes, and wishes, and believes, that he will do the hills well, and with this he could do a beautiful Giro d’Italia. This, I also think, because Baldini is a classy rider, and that one has the class that he has, one can do anything.
The Dutchman Wout Wagtmans, winner of the stage to Terni, has an exponent of excellence with his directeur sportif, Constante Girardengo.
Wagtmans is not a specialist for the time trial stage. He will lose some time, but I hope he will recuperate it in the mountain stages. But Holland will be well represented because van Est is a great time trialist.
Baby-blue ribbon at the hotel of the Belgium-Cora, the rider Impanis, who is one of the favorites of the classification, has received some good news, his fourth son has been born.
And naturally you are very happy.
With the Belgian Impanis is Spanish rider Miguel Poblet, winner of three stages, Miguel, first of all, how is your health?
The health, one can say, goes well, but in the meantime I have a cold that makes breathing hurt a lot, with great difficulty. Yesterday, for example, the stage was always with water, in sum it made it terrible for me.
Will this bother you for tomorrow’s stage?
Yes, inevitably, because tomorrow is stage that one always has to depart with great ease in breathing, because it a short route, but very violent.
And your favorites for tomorrow’s stage, who are they?
Favorites for tomorrow, maybe Baldini.
And the favorite for the final outcome of the Giro?
Eh, we’ll have to see, there are many climbs, maybe Gaul.
Gaul. And Miguel Poblet, what will he able to do for the pink jersey here?
This we’ll have to see, let’s hope we can do something good, but I believe it will be difficult with those climbs for us.
But in [Verona?] you found yourself well [?]. At [?] you went pretty well.
Yes, yes, yes. I can’t say anything bad.
So you still have some hope?
Many wishes, Poblet.
Thanks a lot.
Favero, Carlesi, and Boni. A three-of-a-kind of youth in the great poker of the Giro d’Italia.
Favero and Carlesi are at their first Giro d’Italia.
Yes, for my first Giro d’Italia I am sufficiently happy, I won a stage and I hope that now that climbs arrive to do a bit better.
Yes, Favero awaits the climbs, Carlesi instead hopes much for tomorrow’s time trial stage.
Yes, I truly, well, I don’t hope much, because there are some great champions that go hard, and then on the stage to Siena I lost many minutes. That [?] that happened at the feed zone, I remained there. In any case I will try to defend myself the best possible, and to regain some lost time.
For Guido Boni it is the third Giro d’Italia.
Yes, this is my third Giro d’Italia. Without a doubt the hardest, because every day there has been a battle, a great battle, there are some foreigners who go hard, very hard, and it will be difficult to oust them. But in any case, us young riders, will continue to fight until the last breath. To try, I don’t know, maybe to be able to win something ourselves sometime.
This is Gaul with his bicycle. The fastest bicycle on the climbs. Tomorrow will be hard, Gaul?
Yes, tomorrow will be hard for me because it is all flat.
But the whole world says that you are in great form, is that true?
It is possible that you will make a beautiful ride, even tomorrow.
Yes, that is also for me the plan, but [?] it is not the mountain.
And who is your favorite?
Baldini and Fornara.
Baldini and Fornara, the favorites of Charly Gaul.
And here is Guerra, to whom the Italian riders should declare war, you three times have brought a foreigner to victory at the Giro.
Well, I don’t believe that there should be frontiers in sport.
And on the other hand the Italians have won in France. It’s true. And you personally have always made a great contribution to Italian cycling. What do you think of tomorrow’s stage?
Tomorrow’s stage is hard for one who is not a great time trialist, there will be– I think the winner will probably be Baldini.
And the position of Gaul at the arrival?
It will be excellent.
Is Gaul better than last year?
Yes, he is more determined. With greater form and more determined to win.
So he can repeat the feat of ’56?
I think so.
In the house of Chlorodont, tomorrow’s trial is awaited with great faith. The men of greatest prominence are Nencini and Moser, and on them are appointed the hopes of the directeur sportif, Gaetano Belloni.
Moser, tomorrow morning you have to make in whatever time, 10 or 15 kilometers, to be able to prepare the muscles for the time trial.
Alright, I will try to make a beautiful run, but it’s too bad that yesterday I lost those four minutes. But the Giro is long and one never knows, when we are in deep, I hope to be able to do something.
Nencini, you who are a little harder, you need to do a few more kilometers than Moser.
Yes, I think I’ll do some thirty kilometers. To put myself in condition the muscles, to render the maximum. I feel healthy, the Giro has been very hard until now, and I have spent a lot of energy, but I am healthy, and I think that tomorrow I will make– I will obtain a good result.
Nello Fabbri is also a man of classification, and tomorrow his test in the stage of truth is much awaited.
Certainly tomorrow I have no presumptions of winning the stage, because there are men of depth that are sufficiently stronger than I, and they will win, they are unbeatable. I, this year, it depends on the place on the classification, because I find myself in a period of excellent form, and I hope to be among the first at the arrival.
Giancarlo Astrua, already winner of time trial stages, is gradually finding the better form, and tomorrow should give a confirmation.
Well, taking into account the fact that tomorrow it will be difficult for me to aspire to the victory, I believe it is not appropriate to spend the best energies, with the hope that the occasion will present itself to be able to spend them in the future stages.
So we will have an Astrua as protagonist in the Alpine stages?
Well, I wish it for myself, also to give some satisfaction to my fans, who continue to believe in me.
Pasquale Fornara, a specialist of time trial stages, will not be able to render to the best of his abilities in tomorrow’s stage, due to the consequences of yesterday’s fall.
Certainly, for me that fall was not needed, I really suffered in the chase, and even now this harm still torments me.
And so you do not think you will be able to, like you did last year, conquer the pink jersey?
It will be more difficult, indeed, maimed liked this, I don’t know how I will be able to render.
Most of all, what can’t you do, what kind of exertion can you not sustain on the bicycle?
I can’t squeeze the handlebars, even now, I can’t do some movements, I don’t have the strength to lift the arm, my shoulder also hurts.
And how do the legs go?
And the legs also, they took quite a hit, I hurt all over. It was a real disgrace, yesterday.
Ercole Baldini, record holder for the hour record, is the great favorite. Nobody puts in doubt his victory, but will he be able to conquer the pink jersey?
To tell the truth, I hope a lot for the time trial stages, but I don’t even think about the pink jersey, because the gap that separates me from the pink jersey is high, and all of those in front of me on the general classification, are riders that go hard, not only on the climbs but also against the clock. That’s why, I repeat, it is very difficult to conquer the pink jersey.
But do you think that after all these cold days a hot day could provoke some crises?
Well, these stages have been very hard, there will be people who have spent a lot of energy, so if it happens that we find a very hot day, someone may be able to take on a little crisis. But the distance is short, and there are not any major gaps, so even a small crisis is unlikely to affect the yield of this race.
Many have said that you have raced frugally, aiming above all for this stage, how do you find yourself today, in terms of energy reserves?
Everybody says that I raced frugally because I never went on attack in the breakaways, but “frugally” I wouldn’t say, because every time there was a breakaway I always contributed, until their reunion, and energies that others have spent I have also spent. But I hope not to be affected too much, because my physical conditions are pretty good, and I am well, so tomorrow I hope to be able to make a good trial.
The gentleman is served.
“The gentleman is served” is a phrase that Nino Defilippis is a phrase he does not wish to hear tomorrow evening at the end of time trial stage. Instead, Defilippis hopes to defend victoriously his pink jersey tomorrow also.
Well, that is what I wish for myself. Naturally, the time trial stage is very hard, and tomorrow it is important that I guard myself especially from Bobet, who is only thirteen seconds down from me, from Fornara who has a minute, and Baldini who has two minutes and five seconds. To tell the truth I prefer the time trial stage over the past stages, in as much that here we will all compete head to head, and at the least I will be able to defend myself with adversaries that are riding individually rather than all together as it has been in these days.
Do you think you have a particular aptitude for time trial stages?
I hope. To tell the truth, it’s been many years that I have been riding and I still don’t understand myself. That is to say, at times I find myself doing impossible things, other times I don’t even arrive, in a manner of speaking, in the top thirty. It happens that I win sprints against the best sprinter and another day to arrive last in the group. It happens that I go strong on the climbs and another day to get dropped on an overpass. And let’s hope that tomorrow is a day that I can win, which will not be an easy thing, and instead not arrive last.
The events of the time trial stage of Forte dei Marmi will be transmitted live beginning at the 16th hour. The circuit develops around the coast of Forte dei Marmi and amounts to 56 kilometers. The departures will begin around 12:45. The pink jersey Defilippis will go off last at 15:57.