1914 Giro d'Italia
6th edition: May 24 - June 7
Results, stages with running GC, photos and history
3,162 km raced at an average speed of 23.37 km/hr.
81 starters and 8 classified finishers. Yes that's right, only 8 finishers
Since the Giro's origin in 1909, the General Classification had been calculated using points. The 1914 Giro GC was the first edition that used elapsed time to figure the standings and time has remained the basis of the Giro's standings ever since.
The 1914 Giro was without a doubt the hardest-ever Grand Tour. Only 8 riders were able to finish this staggeringly difficult race.
A planned 1915 edition was cancelled with Italy's entry into the war.
- Alfonso Calzolari (Stucchi): 135hr 17min 56sec
- Pierino Albini (Globo) @ 1hr 57min 26sec
- Luigi Lucotti (Maino) @ 2hr 4min 23sec
- Clemente Canepari (Stucchi) @ 3hr 1min 12sec
- Enrico Sala (independent) @ 3hr 59min 45sec
- Carlo Durando (Maino) @ 5hr 12min 22sec
- Ottavio Pratesi (Alcyon) @ 17hr 21min 8sec
- Umberto Ripamonti (aspirants, an unsponsored class) @ 17hr 21min 8sec
Highest placed independent rider: Enrico Sala
Winning team: Stucchi
Stage 1: Sunday, May 24, Milano - Cuneo, 420 km
Ascents: La Serra, Sestriere
- Angelo Gremo: 17hr 13min 55sec. 24.37 km/hr
- Carlo Durando @ 13min 55sec
- Alfonso Calzolari s.t.
- Costante Girardengo @ 44min 20 sec
- Luigi Ganna @ 44min 21sec
- Enrico Sala @ 1hr 3min 22sec
- Carlo Oriani @ 1hr 7min 15sec
- Giovanni Cervi s.t.
- Lauro Bordin @ 1hr 14min 30sec
- Dario Beni @ 1hr 16min 21sec
GC after Stage 1:
Gremo leads, all riders with the same times and places as their stage finishes.
Stage 2: Tuesday, May 26, Cuneo - Lucca, 340 km
Ascents: La Bocchetta, Passo del Bracco
- Alfonso Calzolari: 14hr 26min 15sec. 23.8 km/hr
- Giuseppe Azzini @ 23min 45sec
- Constante Girardengo @ 30min 45sec
- Pierino Albini s.t.
- Enrico Sala @ 39min 33sec
- Rinaldo Spinelli @ 35min 22sec
- Ottavio Pratesi @ 44min 13sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 44min 35sec
- Sante Goi @ 57min 28sec
- Giovanni Gerbi @ 59m in 38sec
GC after Stage 2:
- Alfonso Calzolari: 31hr 54min 5sec (reflects 10-second penalty)
- Costante Girardengo @ 1hr 4min 7sec
- Enrico Sala @ 1hr 20min 0sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 1hr 47min 12sec
- Carlo Durando @ 1hr 48min 58sec
- Giuseppe Azzini @ 1hr 58min 11sec
- Ottavio Pratesi @ 2hr 1min 25sec
- Lauro Bordin @ 2hr 17min 36sec
- Pierino Albini @ 2hr 36min 18sec
- Giovanni Cassetta @ 2hr 47min 33sec
Stage 3: Thursday, May 28, Lucca - Roma, 430 km
- Costante Girardengo: 17hr 28min 55sec
- Carlo Durando @ 2min 2sec
- Carlo Oriani s.t.
- Pierino Albini s.t.
- Giuseppe Azzini s.t.
- Luigi Lucotti s.t.
- Alfonso Calzolari s.t.
- Clemente Canepari s.t.
- Enrico Sala @ 14min 53 sec
- Lauro Bordin @ 16min 50sec
GC after Stage 3:
- Alfonso Calzolari: 49hr 33min 1sec
- Costante Girardengo @ 55min 7sec
- Enrico Sala @ 1hr 33min 49sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 1hr 37min 11sec
- Carlo Durando @ 1hr 41min 57sec
- Giuseppe Azzini @ 1hr 47min 8sec
- Lauro Bordin @ 2hr 24min 25sec
- Pierino Albini @ 2hr 27min 18sec
- Carlo Oriani @ 2hr 45min 5sec
- Ottavio Pratesi @ 3hr 3min 29sec
Stage 4: Saturday, May 30, Roma - Avellino, 365 km
Ascents: Monte Bove, Avellino
- Giuseppe Azzini: 13hr 18min 23sec
- Pierino Albini @ 36min 18sec
- Eberardo Pavesi @ 43min 54sec
- Alfonso Clazolari s.t.
- Giovanni Gerbi @ 45min 16sec
- Carlo Oriani @ 49min 27sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 1hr 3min 50sec
- Lauro Bordin @ 1hr 19min 1sec
- Enrico Sala @ 1hr 20min 6sec
- Michele Robotti @ 1hr 33min 47sec
GC after Stage 4:
- Alfonso Calzolari: 63hr 35min 18sec
- Giuseppe Azzini @ 1hr 2min 15sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 1hr 57min 8sec
- Enrico Sala @ 2hr 12min 1sec
- Pierini Albini @ 2hr 19min 46sec
- Carlo Durando @ 2hr 36min 35sec
- Carlo Oriani @ 2hr 50min 38sec
- Costante Girardengo @ 3hr 9min 27sec
- Lauro Bordin @ 3hr 10min 32sec
- Ottavio Pratesi @ 5hr 4min 27sec
Stage 5: Monday, June 1, Avellino - Bari, 328 km
Ascents: Lo Scorzo, Pietrastretta, Serra dei Palmenti, Matera
- Giuseppe Azzini: 12hr 50min 27sec
- Alfonso Calzolari @ 1hr 3min 21sec
- Luigi Lucotti @ 1hr 32min 21sec
- Carlo Durando @ 1hr 49min 13sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 1hr 53min 38sec
- Rinaldo Spinelli @ 2hr 4min 7sec
- Pierino Albini @ 2hr 23min 58sec
- Alfredo Sivocci @ 2hr 23min 58sec
- Lauro Bordin @ 2hr 32min 28sec
- Giosue Lombardi @ 2hr 37min 52sec
GC after Stage 5:
- Giuseppe Azzini: 77hr 22min
- Alfonso Calzolari @ 89sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 2hr 45min 31sec
- Pierini Albini @ 3hr 21min 31sec
- Carlo Durando@ 3hr 22min 33sec
- Enrico Sala @ 4hr 2min 29sec
- Lauro Bordin @ 4hr 29min 54sec
- Luigi Lucotti @ 5hr 43min 17sec
- Carlo Oriani @ 6hr 1min 5sec
- Giosue Lombardi @ 7hr 48min 56sec
Stage 6: Wednesday, June 3, Bari - L'Aquila, 428 km
Ascents: Motta Montecorvino, Vinchiaturo, Rionero Sannitico, Cinquemiglia, Poggio Picenze
- Luigi Lucotti: 19hr 20min 47sec
- Carlo Durando @ 18min 59sec
- Alfonso Calzolari @ 34min 24sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 44min 30sec
- Ottavio Pratesi @ 1hr 12min 4sec
- Pierino Albini @ 2hr 12min 53sec
- Maggiore Albani @ 2hr 14min 21sec
- Giosue Lombardi @ 3hr 5min 34sec
- Enrico Sala @ 3hr 6min 3sec
- Eberardo Pavesi @ 3hr 8min 15sec
Durando, Calzolari and Canepari were penalized and relegated, but I do not know if these results reflects this.
GC after Stage 6:
- Alfonso Calzolari: 100hr 28min 39sec
- Pierino Albini @ 1hr 56min 31sec
- Luigi Lucotti @ 2hr 4min 26sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 2hr 56min 39sec
- Carlo Durando @ 3hr 7min 17sec
- Enrico Sala @ 3hr 59min 40sec
- Giosue Lombardi @ 7hr 15min 39sec
- Ottavio Pratesi @ 7hr 20min 58sec
- Alfredo Sivocci @ 8hr 35min 44sec
- Eberardo Pavesi @ 11hr 30min 24sec
Stage 7: Friday, June 5, L'Aquila - Lugo, 429 km
Ascents: Colle Croce, Ascoli Piceno
- Pierino Albini: 17hr 45min 47sec
- Luigi Lucotti s.t.
- Ottavio Pratesi s.t.
- Alfonso Calzolari s.t.
- Umberto Ripamonte s.t.
- Enrico Sala @ 3sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 41sec
- Carlo Durando @ 2hr 11min 18sec
GC after Stage 7:
- Alfonso Calzolari: 118hr 13min 32sec
- Pierino Albini @ 1hr 56min 20sec
- Luigi Lucotti @ 2hr 5min 15sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 2hr 58min 9sec
- Enrico Sala @ 4hr 22min
- Carlo Durando @ 4hr 23min 35sec
- Ottavio Pratesi @ 7hr 20min 47sec
- Umberto Ripamonte @ ?
8th and Final Stage: Sunday, June 7, Lugo - Milano
- Pierino Albini: 17hr 13min 0sec
- Clemente Canepari @ 1sec
- Carlo Durando s.t.
- Luigi Lucotti s.t.
- Ottavio Pratesi s.t.
- Clemente Canepari s.t.
- Enrico Sala @ 2sec
- Umberto Ripamonte @ 4sec
This excerpt is from "The Story of the Giro d'Italia", Volume 1. If you enjoy it we hope you will consider purchasing the book, either print or electronic. The Amazon link here will make either purchase easy.
The Giro had so far calculated its General Classification by using points rather than elapsed time. But calculating a stage race by points has two disadvantages. First, it can lead to seemingly unjust results. Winners sometimes had longer elapsed times than lower placed racers. Second, scoring by points leads to dull racing. If a rider is five seconds or five minutes behind, it doesn’t matter. Unconcerned about time, racers would check their efforts if a higher stage placing were unobtainable, saving their strength for another day. As the Tour had done in 1913, the Giro announced that their 1914 edition would be based on time. While neither race ever went back to using points system to calculate the General Classification, the Giro began a special points classification in 1966 with an eye to giving the sprinters something more than stage wins to race for.
The 1914 edition had eight stages, starting and ending in Milan. Even though there were just eight stages, this was a course of unbelievable brutality. At 3,170 kilometers, the average stage length was a torturous 396 kilometers. The shortest stage was the fifth, still 328 kilometers long.
This Giro had the longest stage in its history, the third: a trip from Lucca all the way down to Rome. Its 430 kilometers, along with the sixth and eighth stages, both 428 kilometers in length, were so long they required midnight starts, forcing the peloton to ride for long hours at night on roads that even by day were difficult to negotiate.
The team Atala sent was quite different from their dominating 1912 squad. There were two Frenchmen, Petit-Breton and Paul Duboc, and three Italians, of whom Rossignoli was the most accomplished. Finally and surprisingly, there was an Englishman, Frederick Henry Grubb.
Grubb won two silver cycling medals at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. He turned pro in 1914 and before the year was over decided that professional continental racing was not for him. Because English pro racers were not allowed to return to amateur racing, he retired and started building bicycles. Eventually his trademark was purchased by the now defunct Holdsworthy Company which sold “Freddie Grubb” branded bikes until the late 1970s.
None of the Atala riders finished the 1914 Giro.
Bianchi (Galetti, Oriani, Sivocci, Pavesi), Maino (Girardengo, Luigi Lucotti, Carlo Durando), Ganna (Santhià, Ganna, Corlaita, Angelo Gremo) and Stucchi (Beni, Alfonso Calzolari) were the most powerful teams. Gerbi was the sole rider on his eponymous Gerbi team.
Eighty-one riders left Milan for Cuneo at midnight, May 24. They faced 420 kilometers of racing in abominable conditions. For the second time in Giro history the race would go over the Sestriere Pass. By the time they reached Susa, west of Turin, they had been riding for 200 kilometers in the rain, and hence on muddy, difficult roads. Actually, it was more than rain. When they went through Turin the racers ran into a gale. The organizers allowed a brief neutralization of the race so the riders could change into dry and warmer clothes. As they climbed to Sestriere the rain turned to snow with a biting, cold wind that made this stage a race of almost endless suffering. Most of the riders were forced to walk their bikes at least part of the climb and by the time the leaders crested the pass they had been on the road for about twelve hours.
To make their torment complete, partisans of various riders scattered nails on the road.
Alfonso Calzolari on the Sestriere climb
Angelo Gremo was the first man into Cuneo. The next two riders, Carlos Durando and Alfonso Calzolari arrived nearly fourteen minutes later. Girardengo was next at over 44 minutes. The 37 finishers out of the 81 starters straggled in for hours. The final finisher, Mario Marangoni, took 7 hours more than Gremo’s already stupefying 17 hours and 14 minutes. Petit-Breton was among the majority of the riders who abandoned that apocalyptic day.
The second stage, a comparatively short 340 kilometers from Cuneo to Lucca, was won in a commanding fashion by Alfonso Calzolari. Second place Giuseppe Azzini arrived almost 24 minutes later and Girardengo and Pierino Albini didn’t show up at the finish line until 30 minutes 45 seconds had ticked by after Calzolari had taken the stage.
After two stages Calzolari was in charge. The General Classification stood thus:
1. Alfonso Calzolari
2. Costante Girardengo @ 1 hour 4 minutes 7 seconds
3. Enrico Sala @ 1 hour 20 minutes 1 second
For a rider with such extraordinary strength and endurance, the 27-year-old Calzolari’s footprint on professional cycling is surprisingly small. Previous to this stage win, I can find only one other major victory, the 1913 Tour of Emilia.
The year’s monster stages were perfect for record setting. Bianchi rider Lauro Bordin set the mark for the Giro’s longest ever solo break, 350 kilometers of that giant Lucca–Rome stage. Girardengo was among those who eventually caught and passed Bordin.
The fifth stage was ridden over the primitive (even by the standards of the era) roads of Basilicata and Puglia. It was so difficult that even though the judges stayed at the finish until 12:45 AM, Pavesi, Gerbi, Girardengo and three others still racing hadn’t finished the stage. Azzini won by an hour over Calzolari, becoming the leader with only 89 seconds separating him from Calzolari.
Making the riders’ misery complete, throughout the race they were constantly tormented by pouring rain. Nearly every stage at some point was ridden under a torrent.
The riders were also victims of the poor state of the era’s exercise physiology. Many of them suffered from knee and tendon problems caused by the seemingly endless stages ridden in the cold, and in those days soigneurs didn’t have a clue about how to handle these troubles.
Of the untimed finishers from stage five, only Pavesi got his courage to the sticking point and showed up at the start line when the Giro resumed two days later. The sixth stage has the distinction of taking longer than any other Giro stage in history. Luigi Lucotti needed 19 hours 20 minutes 47 seconds to go from Bari to L’Aquila. Umberto Ripamonti, the twelfth and last finisher on that day took 22 hours 43 minutes 26 seconds to complete his personal calvary.
Azzini had to abandon. He mysteriously vanished during the stage and only after officials spent the night searching for him did they find him lying in a barn, feverish and suffering from a bad lung infection, no doubt caused by day upon day of racing in the cold rain.
Racing in the 1914 Giro. I don't know the rider's name nor the stage in this picture.
Even without Azzini’s disappearance, the sixth stage would still be a strange one. Calzolari, Durando and Canepari received tows, presumably from cars, and were each penalized three hours. Calzolari’s time advantage over the others after Azzini’s withdrawal was so great that despite the penalty he was still the General Classification leader.
The final two stages of the 1914 death-ride didn’t significantly change the standings except to further reduce the peloton to just eight riders.
Among the other records, the time difference of nearly two hours between first and second is the greatest of any Giro. With an average speed of only 23.371 kilometers per hour it was also the slowest-ever Giro and had the smallest finishing field, at eight. Like the 1912 team competition, this super-long stage experiment would never again be repeated. Desgrange had wanted his Tour de France to be so difficult that it would be almost impossible to finish. In 1914 the Giro came far closer to old Henri’s ideal than his Tour ever did.
This sixth Giro is considered by cycle historians to have been the most difficult ever and several make a reasonable case, with which I can find no fault, that it was the hardest Grand Tour of all time. It also cemented the regional nature of the era’s Giri as no foreigner had yet managed to even finish a Giro d’Italia.
Complete Final 1914 Giro d’Italia General Classification:
1. Alfonso Calzolari (Stucchi) 135 hours 17 minutes 56 seconds
2. Pierino Albini (Globo) @ 1 hour 57 minutes 26 seconds
3. Luigi Lucotti (Maino) @ 2 hours 4 minutes 23 seconds
4. Clemente Canepari (Stucchi) @ 3 hours 1 minute 12 seconds
5. Enrico Sala (independent) @ 3 hours 59 minutes 45 seconds
6. Carlo Durando (Maino) @ 5 hours 12 minutes 22 seconds
7. Ottavio Pratesi (Alcyon) @ 7 hours 20 minutes 58 seconds
8. Umberto Ripamonti (Aspirant) @ 17 hours 21 minutes 8 seconds
First place (Alfonso Calzolari) and fourth place (Clemente Canepari) in the 1914 Giro
1915. The 1914 Giro had ended June 7. On June 28, the same day the 1914 Tour de France began, Serbian secret agent Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This seemingly small event started the tragic series of mindless ultimatums between the great powers of Europe that catapulted the world into the first of the twentieth century’s monumental tragedies. On August 3 Germany declared war on France and invaded Belgium.
As northern Europe lost its mind and descended into competitive slaughter, Italy initially decided to remain neutral. She was allied to the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) but because Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia was done without consulting Italy, the terms of the alliance were violated. Italy felt that since she didn’t have a dog in this fight, she would stay out of it. This official policy matched the general feeling of the Italian populace.
But powerful elements within Italy, on both the right and the left, felt that Italy should join the conflict. Some believed that a greater Italian unity could be forged on the anvil of war. Others worried that by staying out of the war, Italy would miss picking up the inevitable spoils that would come to the war’s winners. The far left hoped the war would trigger the long-sought workers’ revolution.
La Gazzetta, sure that the war would not involve Italy, went ahead with planning a 3,000-kilometer 1915 Giro. In a profound change from previous editions, the organizers contemplated a fifteen-stage race with just two rest days. Instead of the existing schedule of a rest day between each stage, there would be a race each day with each stage averaging about 200 kilometers. The organizers hoped that daily racing would make their Giro more interesting. If this had come to pass in 1915, it would have represented a giant leap into the future, matching current racing's far greater emphasis on speed and power rather than simple, dogged endurance.
The Giro organizers were not alone in thinking this might improve the race. In the 1920s, Henri Pélissier, the mentally unbalanced but highly talented winner of the 1923 Tour as well as several Italian classics, argued that shortening the race routes and letting the riders show more than just a turn of speed near the end to thrill the crowds would improve the quality of the racing. During the long stages of the era the riders usually rode relatively slowly under an understood truce until the final hours, when the real racing would begin.
In the end the Giro opted for a more conventional eight-stage, 3,000-kilometer route.
As world events closed in on Italy, the Giro was ready to start. It assigned back numbers to the riders, giving number one to Petit-Breton, number seven to Ganna and fourteen to Calzolari.
The 1915 race was not to be. Behind the back of an Italian population largely indifferent or hostile to entry in the war, the Italian government entered the conflict on the side of the Allies on May 23, 1915. The French government lubricated Italy’s move towards entering the hostilities with generous bribes to influential journalists including Benito Mussolini, the fiery editor of the socialist paper Avanti. The Giro was suspended until the war’s end.
Under the terms of the secret Treaty of London, if Austria-Hungary were defeated, Italy would be awarded large amounts of Austro-Hungarian territory. The booty dangled before the Italian government was too attractive to resist.
Six hundred thousand Italians died in World War I, many of them from the south. As I noted earlier, 1913 Giro winner Oriani was among the fallen. Petit-Breton became a driver for the French army and was killed in an accident in 1917.
Italy didn’t get all she wanted for betting on the right side of the war, but she was awarded what used to be called South Tyrol and is now named Trentino-Alto Adige. That is why the Stelvio Pass is entirely in Italy and not Austria. Before World War I the border was at the top of the pass. Italy was also given Istria but after the Second World War it became part of Yugoslavia.
After the war the Italian economy, no longer driven by war production, fell on hard times. In addition, the worsening conflict between the right and left became a destabilizing force. Newspaper editor Benito Mussolini was armed with a political and paramilitary organization called the Fasci di Combattimento (which would become the Fascists) and found that he could get more traction by appealing to the right. He trimmed his sails to catch the strongest political winds and his power grew.