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Milano-Torino told in 5 dates: Magni and Coppi, the great duel of 1951


The 37th edition of Milano‑Torino took place along a route of 205 kilometres, under the pouring rain, on March 11, 1951. That was supposed to be the first great duel of the season between Fausto Coppi and Fiorenzo Magni.

“The first breaks pull away immediately, but they are bound to be short‑lived”, said a vintage clip shot by the Istituto Luce. Bertocchi and Molinari clipped off at first, then Tortoni tried to escape, alone. Macini attempted to race clear as well, but his dreams of glory were shattered as soon as the favourites started to attack, going up along the Serra.

Coppi went first – his jacket puffing up in the wind, in an age where aerodynamics was yet to come – and Soldani was the only one to follow. Apparently, this could seem the prelude of one of those legendary rides that have been the signature of the ‘Campionissimo’.

Au contraire, instead of giving in, Martini, Magni and Albani managed to catch up with the leading duo near the epilogue.

Five riders entered the velodrome in Turin, jostling to take victory in a hectic sprint finish.

Magni attacked just opposite the home straight, dropping Albani and Martini by a wheel’s length, and winning his first (and only) Milano‑Torino.

What happened to Coppi?

Probably because of the wet track, Coppi bumped into Albani’s wheel and crashed, causing Soldani to crash as well.

“The heron” came off worse, breaking his left collarbone, which would force him to renounce the forthcoming Milano‑Sanremo.

He would get back to racing in May, just in time to enter the Giro d’Italia. But, again, he would be confronted with a new opponent that he wouldn’t be able to beat that year – Fiorenzo Magni.

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