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Andy Hampsten on the Tour of Italy
« on: May 08, 2014, 16:33 »

1985 : Italian Stage Win Two Weeks After Turning Pro

Stage 20 of that Tour of Italy was a weird “climber” bunch stage of 58km from St. Vincent to Gran Paradiso (Valnontey). It seems that the win by local idol Francesco Moser the year before, prompted Torriani to design exclusive climbers routes again. The first part of the stage was animated by LeMond, says Bike Race Info: in order to tire out Moser, who 2nd in the GC behind LeMond’s leader Bernard Hinault but the Sheriff’s gregario Stefano Giulani controlled the climbers as if they were content with the overall 2nd place.
The American made a 11 minute solo effort for the win. Tommy Prim  *se first shook the peloton but was quickly caught and dropped by Michael Wilson *au . Andy attacked shortly after that. LeMond ventured on a counter-attack but quickly ran out of gas and was joined by Marino Lejarreta who eventually dropped him. The Colombians, Reynal Montoya and Rafael Acevedo and Dutchman Johan Van der Velde attacked in the later part of the climb but none could catch Hampsten again. The group with all top favourites, including Hinault, Lucien Van Impe, Moser, Silvano Contini, Wilson, Prim or Wladimiro Panizza finished around 1’30” behind Hampsten.

The post-race interview was a little weird:
Where are you from?
Boulder, Colorado
How old are you?
23 years
How many years have you been a professional?
2 weeks.
The journalist understood 2 years but Andy had to correct him: “Two WEEKS, due settimane.”
How many races did you win?
This year, it’s my first. Last year I won the National championship but not many races, not many one-day races.
You were very clever in the mountain?
Andy’s answer was pretty much inaudible because Adriano De Zan interrupted him but you could hear that he and his manager, Mike Neel – former pro rider in the Maertens years – decided earlier on about the exact place where to attack.

Hampsten eventually finished 20th in that Tour of Italy, 21min 23sec behind Hinault.

1988: The Gavia Snowstorm

The Gavia hadn’t been climbed again by Tour of Italy riders since the 1960 edition when Massignan and Gaul summitted first, though it was scheduled to be climbed the following year but removed due to bad weather. Ironically the conditions in 1961 were probably not worse than they were in 1988.

Many things have been said and written over that climbing of the Gavia. About Mike Neel giving warm clothing and drinks for his riders at the top of the climb, about Van der Velde coming first on top and about Breukink and Hampsten catching him on the descent, while the leader was struck by the cold, about the pink jersey under-dressed Franco Chioccioli, losing more than 6’ to Breuking and Hampsten, and had to be carried away by several people after reaching finish.

On May 5 2009 Cyclingnews said: “What many fail to realize is that Hampsten did not win the 14th stage over the Gavia, Erik Breukink has that honour, but Hampsten did win two other stages in addition to the general classification.”

This article must be American-centered because in the Low Countries, the stage win by Erik Breukink is well remembered along with Johan Van der Velde summitting the climb first. The Volkskrant had in 2013 an article with headline saying: “The Day that Big Men Cried on the Gavia”

The moment Van der Velde was caught by Hampsten, who topped the climb as 2nd was unseen by the cameraman from the Rai but the Dutchman would tell Mart Smeets from the NOS “Nature was stronger than me, that day.” It seems though that GIS – Van der Velde’s team – had sent a soigneur at the top of the climb in order to give his riders dry and warm clothing, reserve wheels and drinks: Giuseppe Parolini but Parolini missed Van der Velde in the snow storm.  Van der Velde didn’t hear anything despite the shouts from his soigneur. Eventually Van der Velde decided to step in a bus from another team. There was ice on his frame and on his hair. Warming up the Dutchman realized he missed a chance. The bus parked next to a farm and Van der Velde finished the stage 45’ behind Breukink. It seems he did not cover the whole parcours.

This Tour of Italy was again taylor-made for climbers and Hampsten took the better of rouleur Breukink in the last climbing ITT: Levico Terme - Valico del Vetriolo (18km) when he won and left Breukink (5th) 1’4” behind him.

Other texts about the Gavia stage are:

1989: The Tri-Bars Controversy
In 1989 Hampsten prepared for the Tour of Italy at the Tour de Trump. This American race on the East Coast was the follow-up of the Coors Classic and will later be replaced by the Dupont Tour. Hampsten finished it 10th. Teammate Dag-Otto Lauritzen controversially won the race (more about this race in an upcoming biography of Eric Vanderaerden).
Lauritzen raced the last ITT of the Tour of Trump with tri-bars, the clip-ons model. This new device had already been used by triathletes like Ray Browning since the Ironman of New Zealand that year ( ). An earlier version of those handlebars already existed in 1988 when the American squad used them at the Seoul Olympics (100km TTT) but those were one-piece handlebars, not as efficient as the clip-ons that were used by Ray Browning. The 7-Eleven team had planned to keep it secret until the Tour of France (or until The Tour of Italy?, as we’ll see later) but the idea of a home victory at the Tour of Trump proved too strong and Lauritzen  *no was under threat by specialist Eric Vanderaerden.
One week after that victory by his teammate Hampsten came to Sicily for the start of the Tour of Italy. He had recuperated from the jet lag but probably racing the Tour of Romandy would have been a better suited preparation.
There were no prologue at that Tour of Italy but at the TTT of Stage 3 - Villafranca Terme - Messina, Hampsten came with his 7-Eleven teammates and with the tri-bars. However this time UCI official Mr Ledent strictly enforced the 3-point rules. In 1989 the three-point rule was the article 49 of the UCI ruling which said:
“Bicycles of all kinds, functioning by the sole force of the man, answering the characteristics defined below and forming a quadrilateral shape with three points in a fixed position (saddle, bars, pedals) are admitted for competition.” (personal translation from French, apologies if it’s not too well worded)

In Ledent’s reasoning this new kind of tri-bars did not fit with that rule because these bars added two arm rests, on which the rider’s forearms may rest, beside the 3 other resting points. Fortunately Hampsten had a reserve bike and could carry on his Tour of Italy.

In July however the 7-Eleven – including Hampsten – started the prologue of the Tour of France with these new aerobars. The UCI commissar was no longer Mr Ledent but Mr Jacquat and he was much more tolerant to it. At the first long ITT in Rennes Greg LeMond imitated them. The rest of the story is known, LeMond will win with barely 8” ahead of Fignon, the tri-bars being obviously decisive.

At the Eddy Merckx GP – a ITT in the streets of Brussels, held in September –, Mr Ledent was back on duty. The 7-Eleven knew that he did not tolerate the new form of tri-bars, since the Tour of Italy. That is why they came up with the earlier one-piece form of tri-bars used by the American squad of the Seoul Olympics. Ledent did not see any kind of additional resting points on it. That is how Sean Yates of the 7-Eleven team won the race, more than 2’ clear of Edwig Van Hooydonck (see our Edwig Van Hooydonck Biography). Hampsten who was not a specialist, ended 18th and dead last, 11’35” behind his teammate.

For this Eddy Merckx GP Laurent Fignon planned to race on a bike equipped with the new clip-ons tri-bars, such as those LeMond and Lauritzen used. True to himself, Ledent said no to Fignon. Fignon was so furious that he decided not to start.

 In his book “Nous étions jeunes et insouciants” Fignon said that the UCI official who served at the Merckx GP was the same as the one who served at the Tour of France and gave LeMond a green light to use the tri-bars. That’s inaccurate. The UCI official at the Tour fo France was Mr Jacquat. Mr Ledent, however, served at the Tour of Italy, where he already prevented Hampsten from using the tri-bars. He was thus consistent with himself. Also Fignon seemed to imply in his book (20 years after the event) that he was kept from racing the Merckx GP but he was allowed to race with his reserve bike – he had one - , which other riders did, probably his teammate Thierry Marie. Fignon actually refused to start as a form of protest.

1989 Tour of Italy

So Hampsten could still carry on his Tour of Italy. This route was so mountainous that Erik Breukink said: “On this course Moser could never have won”, quoted by Fignon in his “Nous étions jeunes et innocents”, referring to the infamous 1984 route, which was shockingly flat in order to favour Moser. 

This time Fignon came back and nobody could match him. Breukink was still there and won the main ITT but suffered from a hunger knock during the queen stage – the 14th one between Misurina and Corvara in Badia (131km) – with ascents of the Giau, the Santa Lucia, the Marmolada, the Pordoi, the Campolongo. That stage was again raced in the cold and the rain (which wasn’t good for Fignon) and won by Flavio Giupponi – about whom Théo Mathy said was one of the three main Italian hopes along with Maurizio Fondriest and Gianni Bugno – while Fignon took the lead in the GC and Hampsten moved up to 3rd place (which was also his rank in the stage ranking), with Giupponi being 2nd. That would be the overall GC.

Fignon proudly quoted Hampsten in his book: “The winner of this Tour of Italy will not necessarily be the strongest but the most intelligent.”

More about that Tour of Italy on Bike Race Info:


The Tour of Italy stage to Gran Paradiso in 1985:

Breukink recalling the Gavia stage (in Dutch), with also interviews of the great Bauke Mollema and Tom Stamsnijder about a possible removal of the same climb in 2010, which did not happen:

Live footage from that famous stage:

Hampsten’s post-race interview (in Italian):

Perle di Sport documentary about the stage to Corvara (in 1989):

Article from L’Équipe in 1989 about Fignon’s refusal to start the Eddy Merckx GP. In it Philippe Brunel mentions a quote by Nicolas Ledent saying he kept Hampsten from using the tri-bars at the previous Tour of Italy. Also you have the results of that Merckx GP on it, with Hampsten finishing dead last !

Other article by L’Équipe a few days later about the controversy around the UCI contradictions. It’s an interview of Claude Jacquat who was the UCI official at the Tour of France that year. On it Philippe Brunel wrote the 3-point rule of the UCI ruling (article 49).

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    M Gee

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    • The user formerly known as hiero
    Re: Andy Hampsten on the Tour of Italy
    « Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 20:07 »
    VeloNews has published a very fine review of Andy's 1988 Giro. It was more than the Gavia!
    And some more of an interview with Andy here:

    I have to tell you - I remember that issue of VeloNews in 1988, with Andy on the cover. I was frequenting a bike shop in Tempe AZ at the time - and the owner had copies on the newsstand.

    I have to be honest, I was not that impressed back then. Of course, we got no TV coverage of the Giro, so I did not know the story of Andy's win until much later. At the time I thought that Andy was only a one GT winner (which turned out to be true), and not really in the top ranks of riders back then (in which I was very wrong). LeMond was the bigger name, and one would likely say the better rider. But that 7-11 team really kicked some hind end back then. A great team, and Andy's win was one for the ages.

    This article by VeloNews is really good work on their part.
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  • . . .He had the bit between his teeth, and he loiked the taste, mate . . .


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