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1946 Giro d'Italia

29th edition: June 16- July 7

Results, stages with running GC, photos and history

1941-42 Giro | 1947 Giro | Giro d'Italia Database | 1946 Giro Quick Facts | 1946 Giro d'Italia Final GC | Stage results with running GC | The Story of the 1946 Giro d'Italia |


1946 Giro Quick Facts:

3,309 km raced at an average speed of 33.95 km/hr

79 starters and 40 classified finishers

This was the first Grand Tour that Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali were opponents on separate teams.

Coppi suffered a crises in stage nine, losing enough time time to put the race out of reach from an in-form Gino Bartali. Coppi gained some time in the Dolomites, but ended up 47 seconds short.

Gunfire erupted in the stage 14 finishing in Trieste. The stage was neutralized.


1946 Giro d'Italia Complete Final General Classification:

  1. maglia rosaGino Bartali (Legnano): 95hr 32min 20sec
  2. Fausto Coppi (Bianchi) @ 47sec
  3. Vito Ortelli (Benotto) @ 15min 28sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa (ENAL-Campari) @ 15min 31sec
  5. Aldo Ronconi (Benotto) @ 24min 41sec
  6. Giulio Bresci (Welter) @ 27min 35sec
  7. Ezio Cecchi (Centro Sportivo Italiano) @ 37min 58sec
  8. Giordano Cottur (Wilier Triestina) @ 38min 28sec
  9. Alfredo Martini (Welter) @ 39min 54sec
  10. Primo Volpi (Velo Club Bustese) @ 43min 12sec
  11. Aldo Baito (Velo Club Bustese) @ 44min 15sec
  12. Serafino Biagoni (Fronte Gioventu) @ 46min 56sec
  13. Bruno Pasquini (Milan-Gazzetta) @ 51min 17sec
  14. Enzo Coppini (Fronte Gioventu) @ 58min 51sec
  15. Diego Marabelli (ENAL-Campari) @ 1hr 2min 2sec
  16. Augusto Introzzi (Azzini Freno-Universal) @ 1hr 18min 3sec
  17. Antonio Bevilacqua (Wilier-Triestina) @ 1hr 18min 36sec
  18. Giannino Piccolroaz (Wilier-Triestina) @ 1hr 20min 3sec
  19. Secondo Barisone (Bianchi) @ 1hr 22min 39sec
  20. Mario Fazio (Viscontea) @ 1hr 22min 57sec
  21. Giovanni De Stefanis (Bianchi) @ 1hr 28min 24sec
  22. Andrea Giacometti (Fronte Gioventu) @ 1hr 30min 18sec
  23. Aldo Bini (Legnano) @ 1hr 32min 39sec
  24. Serse Coppi (Bianchi) @ 1hr 37min 15sec
  25. Oreste Conte (Benotto) @ 1hr 38min 44sec
  26. Guido Lelli (Benotto) @ 1hr 41min 23sec
  27. Cesare Del Cancia (Welter) @ 1hr 44min 19sec
  28. Egidio Marangoni (Milan-Gazzetta) @ 1hr 49min 35sec
  29. Silvio Furlan (Velo Club Bustese) @ 1hr 52min 31sec
  30. Marcello Spadolini (Centro Sportivo Italiano) @ 1hr 52min 58sec
  31. Paolo Ferrari (Velo Club Bustese) @ 1hr 59min 2sec
  32. Renzo Zanazzi (Legnano) @ 2hr 1min 40sec
  33. Elio Bertocchi (Viscontea) @ 2hr 19min 12sec
  34. Remo Sala (ENAL-Campari) @ 2hr 22min 32sec
  35. Guerrino Amadori (ENAL-Campari) @ 2hr 27min 2sec
  36. Carlo Moscardini (Azzini Freno-Universal) @ 2hr 38min 44sec
  37. Egidio Feruglio (Wilier-Triestina) @ 2hr 42min 44sec
  38. Enea Antolini (Benotto) @ 2hr 51min 0sec
  39. Valeriano Zanazzi (Legnano) @ 3hr 16min 36sec
  40. Luigi Malabrocca (Milan-Gazzetta) @ 4hr 9min 44sec

Climbers' Competition:

  1. green jerseyGino Bartali (Legnano)
  2. Fausto Coppi (Bianchi)
  3. Vito Ortelli (Benotto)

Winning Team: Benotto


1946 Giro stage results with running GC:

My apologies, I am missing the GC standings for a few stages.

There were three days with split stages. Some accounts call them a & b, thus giving 1946 17 stages. Others (and this is the more common Italian practice) give each stage a unique number, making 1946 have 20 stages. I have followed that second practice with the alternative stage numbers also noted.

Stage 1: Saturday, June 15, Milano - Torino, 185 km

  1. Giordano Cottur: 4hr 57min 29sec
  2. Antonio Bevilacqua @ 43sec
  3. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  4. Mario Ricci @ 1min 48sec
  5. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  6. Angelo Menon s.t.
  7. Enzo Coppini s.t.
  8. Ubaldo Pugnaloni s.t.
  9. Mario Fazio s.t.
  10. Enrico Mollo s.t.

Stage 2: Sunday, June 16, Torino - Genova, 190 km

  1. Antonio Bevilacqua: 6hr 43min 42sec
  2. Aldo Baito @ 1min 48sec
  3. Egidio Marangoni @ 2min 55sec
  4. Fermo Camellini @ 3min 20sec
  5. Augusto Introzzi s.t.
  6. Diego Marabelli s.t.
  7. Angelo Menon @ 3min 47sec
  8. Marcello Spadolini @ 5min 2sec
  9. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  10. Ubaldo Pugnaloni s.t.

GC after Stage 2:

  1. Antonio Bevilacqua: 10hr 41min 54sec
  2. Fermo Camellini @ 4min 25sec
  3. Egidio Marangoni @ 4min 51sec
  4. Angelo Menon @ 4min 52sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 20sec
  6. Diego Marabelli @ 5min 24sec
  7. Vito Ortelli @ 6min 3sec
  8. Ubaldo Pugnaloni @ 6min 7sec
  9. Aldo Baito @ 6min 11sec
  10. Sergio Maggini @ 6min 57sec

Stage 3: Monday, June 17, Genova - Montecatini, 222 km

climbMajor Ascent: Bracco

  1. Adolfo Leoni: 6hr 36min 46sec
  2. Olimpio Bizzi s.t.
  3. Renzo Zanazzi s.t.
  4. Mario Ricci @ 2min 4sec
  5. Luigi Casola s.t.
  6. Serse Coppi s.t.
  7. Mario Fazio s.t.
  8. Antonio Bevilacqua s.t.
  9. Fermo Camellini and 13 other riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 3:

  1. Antonio Bevilacqua: 17hr 20min 44sec
  2. Fermo Camellini @ 4min 25sec
  3. Egidio Marangoni @ 4min 51sec
  4. Adolfo Leoni @ 5min 4sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 20sec
  6. Diego Marabelli @ 5min 24sec
  7. Olimpio Bizzi @ 5min 55sec
  8. Vito Ortelli @ 6min 3sec
  9. Renzo Zanazzi @ 6min 54sec
  10. Salvatore Crippa @ 6min 58sec

Stage 4 (or 4a): Tuesday, June 18, Montecatini - Prato, 30 km. Other sources list this stage at 40 and 44 km and one, incorrectly, as an individual time trial.

  1. Antonio Bevilacqua: 44min 11sec
  2. Oreste Conte s.t.
  3. Mario Ricci s.t.
  4. Elio Bertocchi s.t.
  5. Giulio Bresci s.t.
  6. Aldo Bini @ 34sec
  7. Renzo Zanazzi s.t.
  8. Valeriano Zanazzi s.t.
  9. Marcello Spadolini s.t.
  10. Quirino Toccacelli s.t.

GC after Stage 4:

  1. Antonio Bevilacqua

Stage 5 (or 4b): Tuesday, June 18, Prato - Bologna, 112 km

climbMajor ascent: Collina

  1. Fausto Coppi: 3hr 8min 21sec. 35.678 km/hr
  2. Gino Bartali s.t.
  3. Vincenzo Rosello s.t.
  4. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  5. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  6. Salvatore Crippa @ 14sec
  7. Primo Volpi s.t.
  8. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  9. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  10. Giovanni De Stefanis s.t.

GC after Stage 5:

  1. Fermo Camellini
  2. Adolfo Leoni @ 20sec
  3. Giordano Cottur @ 22sec
  4. Vito Ortelli @ 1min 5sec
  5. Antonio Bevilacqua @ 1min 48sec
  6. Olimpio Bizzi @ 2min 13sec
  7. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 14sec
  8. Mario Ricci @ 2min 24sxec
  9. Alfredo Martini @ 2min 48sec
  10. Fausto Coppi @ 3min 1sec

Stage 6 (or 5a): Wednesday, June 19, Bologna - Cesena, 80 km

  1. Olimpio Bizzi: 2hr 0min 48sec
  2. Mario Ricci s.t.
  3. Giovanni Corrieri s,t,
  4. Glauco Servadei s.t.
  5. Sergio Maggini s.t.
  6. Mario Vicini s.t.
  7. 14 riders including Coppi and Bartali at same time and placing

GC after Stage 6:

  1. Fermo Camellini

Stage 7 (or 5b): Wednesday, June 19, Cesena - Ancona, 128 km

  1. Aldo Bini: 4hr 0min 30sec. 31.933 km/hr
  2. Olimpio Bizzi s.t.
  3. Oreste Cinte s.t.
  4. Marcello Spadolini s.t.
  5. Quirino Toccaceli s.t.
  6. Aldo Baito s.t.
  7. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  8. Enzo Coppini s.t.
  9. 57 riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 7:

  1. Fermo Camellini: 27hr 20min 6sec
  2. Vito Ortelli @ 1min 5sec
  3. Olimpio Bizzi @ 2min 13sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 14sec
  5. Mario Ricci @ 2min 24sec
  6. Fausto Coppi @ 3min 1sec
  7. Gino Bartali s.t.
  8. Alfredo Martini @ 3min 3sec
  9. Adolfo Leoni @ 5min 49sec
  10. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 51sec

Stage 8 (or 6): Friday, June 21, Ancona - Chieti, 170 km

  1. Vito Ortelli: 4hr 46min 23sec. 35.617 km/hr
  2. Gino Bartali @ 7sec
  3. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  4. Primo Volpi @ 12sec
  5. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  6. Alfredo Martini @ 23sec
  7. Fermo Camellini @ 27sec
  8. Olimpio Bizzi @ 29sec
  9. Mario Ricci @ 40sec
  10. Vincenzo Rossello s.t.

GC after Stage 8:

  1. Fermo Camellini: 32hr 6min 56sec
  2. Vito Ortelli @ 38sec
  3. Olimpio Bizzi @ 2min 15sec
  4. Mario Ricci @ 2min 37sec
  5. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 40sec
  6. Gino Bartali @ 2min 41sec
  7. Alfredo Martini @ 2min 44sec
  8. Fausto Coppi @ 2min 46sec
  9. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 31sec
  10. Adolfo Leoni @ 6min 6sec

Stage 9 (or 7): Sunday, June 23, Chieti - Napoli, 244 km

climbMajor ascent: Maccerone

  1. Mario Ricci: 7hr 28min 15sec
  2. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  3. Aldo Ronconi s.t.
  4. Gino Bartali s.t.
  5. Salvatore Crippa @ 51sec
  6. Fausto Coppi @ 4min 3sec
  7. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  8. Luigi Casola s.t.
  9. Adolfo Leoni @ 8min 15sec
  10. Angelo Menon @ 15min 10sec

GC after Stage 9:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 30hr 35min 49sec
  2. Mario Ricci @ 1min 59sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 2min 3sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 43sec
  5. Fausto Coppi @ 6min 11sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 8min 56sec
  7. Adolfo Leoni @ 13min 43sec
  8. Aldo Ronconi @ 14min 25sec
  9. Olimpio Bizzi @ 19min 59sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 20min 28sec

Stage 10 (or 8): Tuesday, June 25, Napoli - Roma, 226 km

  1. Elio Bertocchi: 6hr 21min 45sec
  2. Walter Generati s.t.
  3. Mario Spinazzi @ 8min 21sec
  4. Renzo Zanazzi @ 8min 45sec
  5. Oreste Conte s.t.
  6. Mario Fazio s.t.
  7. Paolo Ferrari s.t.
  8. Antonio Bevilacqua s.t.
  9. Remo Sala s.t.
  10. Giovanni Corrieri @ 9min 5sec

GC after Stage 10:

  1. Vito Orteli: 46hr 6min 39sec
  2. Mario Ricci @ 1min 59sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 2min 3sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 53sec
  5. Fausto Coppi @ 6min 11sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 8min 56sec
  7. Aldo Ronconi @ 14min 25sec
  8. Alfredo Martini @ 20min 53sec
  9. Fermo Camellini @ 24min 32sec
  10. Prim Volpi @ 25min 31sec

Stage 11 (or 9): Wednesday, June 26, Roma - Perugia, 191 km

  1. Aldo Baito: 5hr 34min 30sec
  2. Severino Canavesi @ 2min 47sec
  3. Guido Lelli @ 6min 8sec
  4. Serafino Biagioni @ 7min 5sec
  5. Giulio Bresci s.t.
  6. Mario Fazio s.t.
  7. Augusto Introzzi @ 7min 29sec
  8. Dante Colombo @ 8min 45sec
  9. Secondo Barisone @ 8min 58sec
  10. Carlo Moscardini @ 12min 58sec

GC after Stage 11:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 51hr 54min 59sec
  2. Mario Ricci @ 1min 59sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 2min 3sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 53sec
  5. Fausto Coppi @ 6min 11sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 8min 56sec
  7. Aldo Ronconi @ 14min 25sec
  8. Alfredo Martini @ 20min 58sec
  9. Fermo Camellini @ 24min 32sec
  10. Giulio Bresci @ 25min 23sec

Stage 12 (or 10): Thursday, June 27, Perugia - Firenze, 165 km

  1. Renzo Zanazzi: 4hr 49min 27sec
  2. Aldo Bini @ 3sec
  3. Oreste Conte s.t.
  4. Quirino Toccaceli s.t.
  5. Mario Fazio s.t.
  6. Aldo Baito s.t.
  7. Aimone Landi s.t.
  8. Carlo Moscardini s.t.
  9. 41 riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 12:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 56hr 45min 6sec
  2. Mari Ricci @ 1min 20sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 1min 24sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 14sec
  5. Fausto Coppi @ 5min 32sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 8min 17sec
  7. Aldo Ronconi @ 14min 25sec
  8. Alfredo Martini @ 20min 19sec
  9. Giulio Bresci @ 24min 44sec
  10. Primo Volpi @ 24min 52sec

Stage 13 (or 11): Saturday, June 29, Firenze - Rovigo, 245 km

  1. Oreste Conte: 7hr 24min 28sec
  2. Antonio Beveilacqua s.t.
  3. Mario Fazio s.t.
  4. Valeriano Zanazzi s.t.
  5. Giulio Bresci s.t.
  6. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  7. Tino Ausenda s.t.
  8. Secondo Berisone s.t.
  9. Bruno Pasquini s.t.
  10. Angelo Menon s.t.

GC after Stage 13:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 64hr 11min 18sec
  2. Gino Bartali @ 1min 24sec
  3. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 14sec
  4. Fausto Coppi @ 5min 32sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 8min 17sec
  6. Aldo Ronconi @ 14min 25sec
  7. Alfredo Martini @ 20min 19sec
  8. Giulio Bresci @ 23min 2sec
  9. Primo Volpi @ 24min 52sec
  10. Ezio Cecchi @ 28min 33sec

Stage 14 (or 12): Sunday, June 30, Rovigo - Trieste, 139 km

Because fighting broke out near the end of the stage, the stage was effectively annulled when all riders were given Giordano Cottur's time.

  1. Giordano Cottur: 6hr 0min 0sec
  2. Antonio Bevilacqua s.t.
  3. Angelo Menon s.t.
  4. Luigi Malabrocca s.t.
  5. Carlo Moscardini s.t.
  6. The rest of the field at same time and placing

GC after Stage 14:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 70hr 11min 18sec
  2. Gino Bartali @ 1min 24sec
  3. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 14sec
  4. Fausto Coppi @ 5min 32sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 8min 17sec
  6. Aldo Ronconi @ 14min 25sec
  7. Alfredo Martini @ 20min 19sec
  8. Giulio Bresci @ 23min 2sec
  9. Primo Volpi @ 24min 52sec
  10. Ezio Cecchi @ 28min 33sec

Stage 15 (or 13): Tuesday, July 2, Udine - Auronzo di Cadore, 125 km

climbMajor ascent: Mauria

  1. Fausto Coppi: 3hr 46min 11sec
  2. Gino Bartali s.t.
  3. Vito Ortelli @ 1min 34sec
  4. Aldo Ronconi @ 2min 4sec
  5. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  6. Giulio Bresci @ 2min 55sec
  7. Ezio Cecchi @ 2min 58sec
  8. Aldo Baito @ 6min 46sec
  9. Giordano Cottur @ 6min 51sec
  10. Elio Bertocchi s.t.

GC after Stage 15:

  1. Gino Bartali: 73hr 58min 53sec
  2. Vito Ortelli @ 10sec
  3. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 54sec
  4. Fausto Coppi @ 4min 8sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 13min 44sec
  6. Aldo Ronconi @ 15min 5sec
  7. Giulio Bresci @ 24min 36sec
  8. Alfredo Martini @ 25min 46sec
  9. Ezio Cecchi @ 30min 7sec
  10. Primo Volpi @ 32min 17sec

Stage 16 (or 14): Wednesday, July 3, Auronzo di Cadore - Bassano del Grappa, 203 km

climbMajor ascent: Falzarego

  1. Fausto Coppi: 5hr 56min 15sec
  2. Aldo Bini @ 1min 12sec
  3. Gino Bartali s.t.
  4. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  5. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  6. Giulio Bresci s.t.
  7. Aldo Baito s.t.
  8. Diego Marabelli s.t.
  9. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  10. Giordano Cottur @ 1min 57sec

GC after Stage 16

  1. Gino Bartali: 79hr 55min 20sec
  2. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 54sec
  3. Fausto Coppi @ 2min 55sec
  4. Vito Ortelli @ 9min 3sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 14min 29sec
  6. Giulio Bresci @ 24min 36sec
  7. Alfredo Martini @ 29min 17sec
  8. Aldo Ronconi @ 29min 38sec
  9. Ezio Cecchi @ 30min 7sec
  10. Aldo Baito @ 39min 45sec

Stage 17 (or 15): Friday, July 5, Bassano del Grappa - Trento, 186 km

climbMajor ascent: Passo Rolle

  1. Aldo Ronconi: 5hr 59min 54sec
  2. Fausto Coppi @ 2min 58sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 3min 7sec
  4. Giulio Bresci @ 8min 6sec
  5. Bruno Pasquini s.t.
  6. Primo Volpi @ 9min 37sec
  7. Aldo Baito s.t.
  8. Mario Fazio s.t.
  9. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  10. Elio Bertocchi s.t.

GC after Stage 17:

  1. Gino Bartali: 86hr 1min 21sec
  2. Fausto Coppi @ 47sec
  3. Vito Ortelli 2 15min 28sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa @ 15min 31sec
  5. Aldo Ronconi @ 24min 31sec
  6. Giulio Bresci @ 27min 38sec
  7. Ezio Cecchi @ 37min 58sec
  8. Giordano Cottur @ 39min 28sec
  9. Alfredo Martini @ 39min 54sec
  10. Aldo Baito @ 44min 5sec

Stage 18 (or 16a): Satuday, July 6, Trento - Verona, 90 km

  1. Oreste Conte: 2hr 38min 48sec
  2. Renzo Zanazzi s.t.
  3. Valeriano Zanazzi s.t.
  4. Mario Fazio s.t.
  5. Aldo Bini s.t.
  6. 34 riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 18:

  1. Gino Bartali

Stage 19 (or 16b): Saturday, July 6: Verona - Mantova, 72 km

  1. Elio Bertocchi: 1hr 47min 38sec
  2. Primo Volpi s.t.
  3. Aldo Bini @ 2min 27sec
  4. Renzo Zanazzi s.t.
  5. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  6. Mario Fazio s.t.
  7. Luigi Malabrocca s.t.
  8. Marcello Spadolini s.t.
  9. 31 riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 19:

  1. Gino Bartali: 90hr 30min 14sec
  2. Fausto Coppi @ 47sec
  3. Vito Ortelli @ 15min 28sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa @ 15min 31sec
  5. Aldo Ronconi @ 24min 31sec
  6. Giulio Bresci @ 27min 35sec
  7. Ezio Cecchi @ 37min 58sec
  8. Giordano Cottur @ 28min 28sec
  9. Alfredo Martini @ 39min 54sec
  10. Primo Volpi @ 43min 12sec

20th (or 17th) and Final Stage: Sunday, July 7, Mantova - Milano, 176 km

  1. Oreste Conte: 5hr 2min 6sec
  2. Aldo Bini s.t.
  3. Marcello Spadolini s.t.
  4. Luigi Malabrocca s.t.
  5. Mario Fazio s.t.
  6. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  7. Aldo Baito s.t.
  8. Carlo Moscardini s.t.
  9. Silvio Furlan s.t.
  10. Valeriano Zanazzi s.t.

1946 Giro d'Italia Complete Final General Classification


The Story of the 1946 Giro d'Italia

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.

In May, Italy held a referendum to decide its form of government. Despite the majority of southern voters preferring a monarchy, Italy voted 12.7 million to 10.7 million in favor of establishing a republic.

Since Pavesi decided to keep Bartali as his Legnano team captain, Coppi signed for Bianchi. One of the conditions Coppi set for the switch was that Bianchi had to find a place on the team for his brother Serse. While not gifted with Fausto’s magnificent talent, Serse was nonetheless a competent professional bicycle racer. Fausto also made sure that Legnano’s ace mechanic, Pinella di Grande, made the move with him to Bianchi.
Coppi began the season in absolutely magnificent style with an epic victory in Milan–San Remo, beating Frenchman Lucien Teisseire by fourteen minutes and a chase group with Bartali, Vito Ortelli and Aldo Ronconi by over eighteen minutes. He had ridden half of the 290 kilometers alone and off the front.

It was in the Championship of Zurich, held in early May, that the friction and distrust between Coppi and Bartali became a sore that festered for almost another decade. Bartali seemed to be having a bad day and made a deal with Coppi. He wouldn’t contest the final sprint if Coppi wouldn’t drop him. Near the finish, as Coppi tightened his toe straps, Bartali attacked and won the race. Given the agony that would follow, this has to be the most expensive victory in Bartali’s career. Coppi would almost never again trust Bartali or the manager of any Italian national team that they were both on.

Other professional riders learned to mistrust the overtly religious Bartali as a welsher. Professional racers regularly barter or sell favors to each other, promising payment or future aid for help during a race. There is nothing unusual in the deal Bartali made with Coppi in the 1946 Championship of Zurich. What is far less common was his refusal to honor the terms of the agreement, but it seems that this was how Bartali often did business with his peers.

While the 1919 Giro had faced gigantic problems in dealing with infrastructure ruined by both battle and neglect, the prospects facing the Giro organizers in 1946 were far worse. The allies had landed in southern Italy and in bitter and difficult fighting battled all the way to Como, Turin and the Brenner Pass, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

When it was announced that Italy would have a national tour in 1946, everyone knew that it would be a logistical nightmare for the organizers as well as a brutal three weeks of racing on miserable, ruined roads for the riders. Symbolizing the hopes for a reborn Italy, it was christened the Giro della Rinascita (rebirth).

So far, Armando Cougnet had been the sole director of the Giro d’Italia, but in 1946 he took on a colleague to help him, Vincenzo Torriani. They collaborated for two years and in 1948 Cougnet stepped aside and Torriani became the Giro boss. Cougnet, who had nurtured and guided the Giro d’Italia for forty years passed away in Milan in 1959.

This twenty-stage (three of the racing days had two stages), 3,417-kilometer exercise in optimism went as far south as Naples and during its return to the north, scheduled a stage finish in the disputed city of Trieste. Both Italy and Yugoslavia claimed the city, then under joint U.S. and British military protection which would continue through 1954. Making Trieste part of the Tour of Italy was sure to anger the minority population of Slovenes who had fought a nasty war with the Italians for control of the city.

This would be the first true duel in a Grand Tour between Italy’s greatest postwar riders, Bartali and Coppi. Both had superb teams and the contest should go to the best man. One aspect of the race’s design really favored Bartali: the 1946 Giro had no time trials, an event at which Coppi excelled.
Given the powerful political tensions generated by the monarchy versus republic referendum, prudence dictated that the organizers wait until after the vote had decided Italy’s future before proceeding with the Giro. The results of the vote in favor of a republic were announced on June 5 and a week later King Umberto left Italy for Portugal. So, on June 15, 79 riders divided into thirteen teams departed from the outskirts of Milan, the bombed inner city’s roads being completely unsuitable for racing in 1946.

Since Italy was still technically at war with most of the other cycling nations (the Paris Peace treaties formally ending Italy’s state of war with the allies weren’t signed until February of 1947), the 1946 Giro peloton was entirely Italian.

We can’t forget one of the riders on the Olmo team, Joseph Magnani. He was an American, born in Illinois, and after his family had fallen on hard times in the late 1920s he was sent to southeastern France to live with relatives. While living in France he discovered bicycle racing and quickly moved up the ranks and by 1935 he was a pro riding for the French Urago bicycle company. His greatest achievement in the 1930s was winning the now discontinued Marseille–Nice race by executing a bold, solo break in the race’s final kilometers.
Magnani continued to race successfully in southern France as the war raged but in 1943 the Germans arrested him as an American and sent him to a concentration camp.

Magnani survived the two-year ordeal and returned to cycling, where we pick up our story in 1946. He was hired to race for the recently retired Giuseppe Olmo who had just started his own bicycle factory. Magnani was selected to race the Giro in support of Olmo’s team leader, Fermo Camellini.

While Giuseppe Enrici’s (winner of the 1924 Giro) American citizenship is an unlikely thing, Magnani’s is certain. Long before the pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s went to Europe to race, Joseph Magnani had carved out a successful career as a Europe-based professional and he is probably the first American to race a Grand Tour.

Each of the first four stages in the 1946 Giro ended in winning breakaways chased by small groups. Neither Coppi nor Bartali managed to infiltrate any of the prevailing groups and by the start of the fifth stage they were both about three minutes behind race leader Antonio Bevilacqua, winner of stages two and four.

Antonio Bevilacqua

Antonio Bevilacqua wins stage 4 in Prato

Stage five, going from Prato in Tuscany over the Apennines to Bologna, was the first leg in which Coppi and Bartali made their presence known. Even though Coppi crashed and broke a rib, he went on to win the stage with Bartali, Ortelli and Cottur finishing with him at the same time. Magnani’s captain Camellini was now the maglia rosa.

As the race headed down the eastern side of Italy, Camellini kept his lead. The ninth stage, starting in Chieti and crossing the mountains over to Naples, had the year’s first decisive action. There are different versions of what happened. The first telling is that Coppi had to stop to get one of his brakes fixed. Bartali didn’t waste any time getting away with eventual stage winner and teammate Mario Ricci, along with Vito Ortelli and Aldo Ronconi (both Benotto riders) and Salvatore Crippa (Enal-Campari). Coppi, Giordano Cottur and Luigi Casola chased, but the Bartali group arrived in Naples four minutes ahead of the Coppi group.

The other version was that Bartali launched a blistering attack on the Macerone and on the eighteenth-century cart tracks that followed the mountain’s descent Bartali (having another one of his lapses) lost all sense of where Coppi was. In fact, Coppi was in crisis with (once again) stomach problems and on the point of quitting when his teammate Adolfo Leoni managed to talk him into continuing the race. Aided by the above mentioned riders he was able to limit his loss to four minutes.

Whichever story is correct (and maybe they both are, they don’t really conflict), the ferocity of the day’s competition may have damaged Coppi’s position, but it positively crushed Camellini’s chances after he crossed the finish line 25 minutes behind the Bartali group.

The General Classification now stood thus:
1. Vito Ortelli
2. Mario Ricci @ 1minute 59 seconds
3. Gino Bartali @ 2 minutes 3 seconds
4. Salvatore Crippa @ 2 minutes 43 seconds
5. Fausto Coppi @ 6 minutes 11 seconds

The race turned north and by the end of the thirteenth stage in Rovigo, Bartali had risen to second place behind Ortelli while Coppi was fourth, still four minutes behind his Tuscan rival. Sadly, Magnani crashed out during the thirteenth stage.

The fourteenth leg was the trip from Rovigo to disputed Trieste that had caused so many misgivings when the route was announced. Sure enough, at Pieris on the road to Trieste there were Yugoslavs behind barbed wire blocking the way. Things turned ugly when the Yugoslavs starting throwing stones and in return, the armed guards who had accompanied the race opened fire. After diving for cover, nearly all the racers decided to quit the stage. But not all of them. The Wilier Triestina squad with Trieste homeboy Giordano Cottur managed to get an American army truck to take them closer to the finish line. Reports on this stage don’t completely agree, but about seventeen riders were escorted into Trieste under American protection.

With only a few kilometers left to race, the team was careful to make sure that Cottur won the stage. Cottur was credited with the stage win and his somewhat arbitrarily assigned racing time of six hours was added to every racer’s General Classification time, effectively annulling the stage.

In the aftermath of the stage, riots raged in Trieste for days. Trieste remained an international sore point until 1954 when it was officially made part of Italy. The Wilier Triestina team bikes were not actually made in Trieste, but by the Dal Molin factory in Bassano del Grappa. Eventually the bikes dropped the Dal Molin name and adopted the more famous racing team’s name and are still raced by top pro teams.

Trieste news

Article from the July 3, 1946 issue of The Bicycle

Now came the Dolomites. Coppi and Bartali rode away from the field in stage fifteen with its crossing of the Passo della Mauria. Coppi won the stage with Bartali finishing with him at the same time. Ortelli came in 94 seconds later, giving Bartali the lead by 10 seconds.

Coppi won again when he went away alone on the Falzarego pass in stage sixteen. With 35 kilometers to go Coppi had a five-minute gap on Bartali, making Coppi the virtual Pink Jersey. Bartali had been chasing Coppi, but only with the greatest difficulty, and looked to be running out of steam. Team director Pavesi told Bartali to wait for teammate Aldo Bini. Bini, who had been dropped long ago, mysteriously closed the gap up to Bartali at that perfect moment.

How? Did Pavesi know that Bini had somehow found new energy that made him capable of riding in the Dolomites as fast or faster than Fausto Coppi? With the clever Pavesi one can conjure any number of possibilities and I’ll hold my nose and leave it at that. In any case, with the help of Bini, Bartali was able to contain the Coppi threat to his leadership, losing only 72 seconds by the end of the stage.

With only one more mountain stage left and Coppi rampaging through the Dolomites, Bartali’s lead had to be considered tenuous at best:
1. Gino Bartali
2. Salvatore Crippa @ 2 minutes 54 seconds
3. Fausto Coppi @ 2 minutes 55 seconds
4. Vito Ortelli @ 9 minutes 3 seconds

Coppi couldn’t find enough magic to overtake and drop Bartali in the seventeenth stage, In fact, Bartali was first over the Passo Rolle, but Coppi finished the stage nine seconds ahead of Bartali when they rolled into Trent after six hours of racing. While the day may not have given Coppi the lead over Bartali, who was clearly riding in a state of grace, with time bonuses Coppi was now sitting in second place, 47 seconds behind Bartali.

riders on Passo Rolle

Fausto Coppi, Vito Ortelli, Gino Bartali and Aldo Ronconi on the Passo Rolle.

The next three stages had no effect on the top classification standings. Still, the 1946 Giro had a bit more salt to rub in Coppi’s wounds. When the final stage finished in the Arena stadium (sounds redundant, doesn’t it?), Coppi sprinted during the first lap, looking to have at least triumphed with a prestigious stage win. Too early. The peloton had to complete another lap before the final rush and so the stage win went to Oreste Conte.

Gino Bartali

Gino Bartali wins the 1946 Giro d'Italia

Final 1946 Giro d’Italia General Classification:
1. Gino Bartali (Legnano) 95 hours 32 minutes 20 seconds
2. Fausto Coppi (Bianchi) @ 47 seconds
3. Vito Ortelli (Benotto) @ 15 minutes 28 seconds
4. Salvatore Crippa (Enal-Campari) @ 15 minutes 31 seconds
5. Aldo Ronconi (Benotto) @ 24 minutes 31 seconds

Climbers’ Competition:
1. Gino Bartali (Legnano)
2. Fausto Coppi (Bianchi)
3. Vito Ortelli (Benotto)

Coppi’s wonderful 1946 included a victory in the Grand Prix des Nations, showing that if the Giro had included a time trial, the result might well have gone the other way. He concluded his season by winning the Tour of Lombardy, coming in alone 40 seconds ahead of Luigi Casola and Michele Motta. Since the subject of buying and selling races has already been opened, Coppi paid Motta 30,000 lire to let him escape from the break. Bicycle racing is a business and not always a pretty one at that.

After the Giro, Bartali went almost immediately to Switzerland where his wonderful form allowed him to crush the competition in the Tour of Switzerland. Bartali beat second-place Josef Wagner by over sixteen minutes, taking the mountains prize along the way.

The competition between the two, surely the two best riders in the world at that time, set Italy on fire. The tifosi split into two camps, each rabidly, wildly in favor of their man. It gave an excitement and drama to Italian racing that was a wonderful anodyne to the pain of the postwar years. Crowds swarmed to the races in record numbers. Since standing by the side of the road was free, cycle road racing was a sport that even the most poverty-struck Italian factory worker or farmer could watch, enjoy and even more importantly, argue about.