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Milano-Torino: the history of the world’s oldest bicycle race

03/08/2021

Milano-Torino: la storia della corsa più antica del mondo

The longest-running cycling race: a story spanning three centuries

This is the world’s oldest bicycle race, first held in 1876. Back then, eight pioneer riders astride their primitive bicycles first took the route that connected the two cities, and only four of them arrived at the finish in Turin. The race was iterated nearly twenty years afterwards, and then ran annually since 1913, only pausing a few times in the 1920s. After four years of absence, from 2008 to 2011, the race was brought back in 2012. Initially held in March, it became an autumn classic in 1911. In the second post-war period, the race was moved to March, and ultimately came back to autumn in 1975, either in late September or in October. Since 1987, the race has taken place in autumn, a few days after the RR World Championships, hence regaining importance as the new world champion would often compete in it, trying to score another win. Only two riders, Gianni Bugno and Laurent Jalabert, have succeeded in doing this. The race was cancelled in 2000 owing to a flood two days before. However, since the edition had been scheduled already, it was considered valid.

From 1965 to 2001, the race was organised by RCS, through the famous sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport. Vincenzo Torriani, the race director from 1960 to 1989, modified the route, making it similar to that of the 2000s. From 2002 onwards, the race was organised by the Associazione Ciclistica Arona, and named Milano-Torino Trofeo Nobili Rubinetterie for sponsoring purposes. Starting in 2015, RCS Sport went back to organising and managing the race.

The winners

Costante Girardengo holds the record for the most wins, 5 overall, followed by Pierino Favalli (3). In the 1920s and 30s, aces like Alfredo Binda, Learco Guerra and Gino Bartali refused to take part in the race. But after those difficult years for the organisers, in the second post-war period, the race became highly prestigious when the leading names in cycling finally took it to the start line. Aces like Fiorenzo Magni, Angelo Panebianco, Franco Balmamion, Gianni Motta, Franco Bitossi, Roger de Vlaeminck, Giovanni Battaglin, Francesco Moser, Giuseppe Saronni and Gianni Bugno all belong in the hall of fame of the race, along with champions of the 2000s such as Alberto Contador, Diego Ulissi. Rigoberto Urán and Thibaut Pinot.

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