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1948 Giro d'Italia

31st edition: May 15 - June 6

Results, stages with running GC, photos and history

1947 Giro | 1949 Giro | Giro d'Italia Database | 1948 Giro Quick Facts | 1948 Giro d'Italia Final GC | Stage results with running GC | The Story of the 1948 Giro d'Italia |


1948 Giro Quick Facts:

4,164 km raced at an average speed of 33.116 km/hr

77 starters and 44 classified finishers.

The 11-second gap between winner Magni and second-place Cecchi remains the closest in Giro history.

Fiorenzo Magni escaped in stage nine, finishing in Naples more than thirteen minutes ahead of Coppi, Bartali and Cottur. This move set him up to win the 1948 Giro.

Coppi won stage 17 with its ascents of the Falzarego and Pordoi. But Coppi was so angered by the pushing in the mountains Magni had received from the fans, Coppi quit the Giro, taking his Bianchi team with him.

The way was now clear for Magni, who won the first of his three Giro d'Italia victories.


1948 Giro d'Italia Complete Final General Classification:

  1. maglia rosaFiorenzo Magni (Wilier-Triestina) 124hr 51min 52sec
  2. Ezio Cecchi (Cimatti) @ 11sec
  3. Giordano Cottur (Wilier-Triestina) @ 2min 35sec
  4. Vito Ortelli (Atala) s.t.
  5. Primo Volpi (Arbos) @ 8min 2sec
  6. Angelo Brignole (Arbos) @ 9min 14sec
  7. Giulio Bresci (Wilier-Triestina) @ 9min 17sec
  8. Gino Bartali (Legnano) @ 11min 52sec
  9. Serafino Biagiani (Viani-Cral Imperia) @ 15min 5sec
  10. Alfredo Martini (Wilier-Triestina) @ 18min 22sec
  11. Nedo Logli (Arbos) @ 22min 47sec
  12. Angelo Menon (Benotto) @ 23min 48sec
  13. Alfredo Pasotti (Benotto) @ 26min 24sec
  14. Virgilio Salimbeni (Legnano) @ 41min 13sec
  15. Giovanni Roncon (Viscontea) @ 52min 37sec
  16. Egidio Feruglio (Wilier-Triestina) @ 54min 22sec
  17. Vittorio Magni (Viani-Cral Imperia) @ 55min 5sec
  18. Vincenzo Rossello (Legnano) @ 58min 56sec
  19. Settimo Simonini (Viani-Cral Imperia) @ 1hr 6min 9sec
  20. Giuseppe Ausenda (Viani-Cral Imperia) @ 1hr 14min 28sec
  21. Armando Peverelli (Atala) @ 1hr 29min 42sec
  22. Elio Bertocchi (Atala) @ 1hr 42min 18sec
  23. Egidio Marangoni (Viani-Cral Imperia) @ 1hr 49min 22sec
  24. Amadeo Maricanola (Viani-Cral Imperia) @ 1hr 50min 6sec
  25. Quirino Toccaceli (Viscontea) @ 1hr 57min 32sec
  26. Ugo Fondelli (Viscontea) @ 2hr 0min 59sec
  27. Gildo Monari (Cimatti) @ 2hr 4min 22sec
  28. Italo De Zan (Atala) @ 2hr 11min 47sec
  29. Leo Castelucci (Legnano) @ 2hr 13min 10sec
  30. Giorgio Cargioli (Benotto) @ 2hr 18min 11sec
  31. Guido Di Santi (Wilier-Triestina) @ 2hr 20min 13sec
  32. Bartolo Bof (Atala) @ 2hr 20min 58sec
  33. Mario Ricci (Legnano) @ 2hr 32min 19sec
  34. Attilio Lambertini (Arbos) @ 2hr 38min 10sec
  35. Italiano Lazzarini (Arbos) @ 3hr 11min 53sec
  36. Sergio Pagliazzi (Atala) @ 3hr 22min 50sec
  37. Enzo Bellini (Cimatti) @ 3hr 28min 22sec
  38. Ubaldo Pugnaloni (Viscontea) @ 3hr 39min 51sec
  39. Carlo Moscardini (Cimatti) @ 3hr 46min 53sec
  40. Valeriano Zannazi (Cimatti) @ 3hr 59min 59sec
  41. Aldo Bini (Benotto) @ 4hr 7min 51sec

Climbers' Competition:

  1. green jerseyFausto Coppi (Bianchi)
  2. Ezio Cecchi (Cimatti)
  3. Gino Bartali (Legnano)

Winning Team: Wilier-Triestina


1948 Giro stage results with running GC:

Stage 1: Saturday, May 15, Milano - Torino, 190 km

  1. Giordano Cottur: 4hr 51min 45sec
  2. Gildo Monari @ 1min 38sec
  3. Antonio Covolo @ 3min 4sec
  4. Alfredo Martini s.t.
  5. Bruno Pasquini s.t.
  6. Bartolo Bof @ 4min 29sec
  7. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 57sec
  8. Luciano Maggini @ 9min 2sec
  9. Nedo Logli s.t.
  10. Oreste Conte s.t.

Stage 2: Sunday, May 16, Torino - Genova, 226 km

  1. Mario Ricci: 6hr 36min 21sec
  2. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  3. Gino Bartali s.t.
  4. Nedo Logli s.t.
  5. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  6. Severino Canavesi s.t.
  7. Angelo Brignole @ 57sec
  8. Luciano Maggini s.t.
  9. Giulio Bresci s.t.
  10. Giordano Cottur s.t.

GC after Stage 2:

  1. Giordano Cottur: 11hr 29min 3sec
  2. Alfredo Martini @ 4min 36sec
  3. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 57sec
  4. Gildo Monari @ 6min 30sec
  5. Gino Bartali @ 8min 5sec
  6. Mario Ricci s.t.
  7. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  8. Nedo Logli s.t.
  9. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  10. Severino Canavesi s.t.

Stage 3: Monday, May 17, Genova - Parma, 243 km

climbMajor ascent: Cisa

  1. Luciano Maggini: 7hr 46min 6sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni s.t.
  3. Gino Bartali s.t.
  4. Nedo Logli s.t.
  5. Umberto Drei s.t.
  6. Guido De Santi s.t.
  7. Alfredo Martini s.t.
  8. Angelo Menon s.t.
  9. Giuseppe Ausenda s.t.
  10. 34 riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 3:

  1. Giordano Cottur: 19hr 15min 11sec
  2. Alfredo Martini @ 4min 36sec
  3. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 57sec
  4. Gildo Monari @ 8min 0sec
  5. Severino Canavesi @ 8min 5sec
  6. Mario Ricci s.t.
  7. Gino Bartali s.t.
  8. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  9. Nedo Logli s.t.
  10. Vito Ortelli s.t.

Stage 4: Tuesday, May 18, Parma - Viareggio, 266 km

Antonio Bevilacqua crossed the line second, but was relegated to (I think) 25th.

  1. Luigi Casola: 8hr 14min 16sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni s.t.
  3. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  4. Gino Bartali s.t.
  5. Elio Bertocchi s.t.
  6. Enzo Bellini s.t.
  7. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  8. Olimpio Bizzi s.t.
  9. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  10. Coppi with 24 other riders at same time and place

GC after Stage 4:

  1. Giordano Cottur: 27hr 30min 34sec
  2. Alfredo Martini @ 4min 31sec
  3. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 36sec
  4. Gildo Monari @ 6min 53sec
  5. Gino Bartali @ 6min 58sec
  6. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  7. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  8. Mario Ricci s.t.
  9. Luciano Maggini @ 7min 53sec
  10. Giulio Bresci @ 8min 41sec

Stage 5: Thursday, May 20, Viareggio - Siena, 165 km

  1. Adolfo Leoni: 5hr 1min 3sec
  2. Oreste Conte s.t.
  3. Nedo Logli s.t.
  4. Gino Bartali s.t.
  5. Sergio Pagliazzi s.t.
  6. Renzo Zanazzi s.t.
  7. Alfredo Pasotti s.t.
  8. Désiré Keteleer s.t.
  9. Angelo Menon s.t.
  10. Armando Peverelli s.t.

GC after Stage 5:

  1. Giordano Cottur: 32hr 31min 54sec
  2. Alfredo Martini @ 4min 31sec
  3. Angelo Brignole @ 6min 36sec
  4. Gino Bartali @ 7min 28sec
  5. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  6. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  7. Mario Ricci s.t.
  8. Luciano Maggini @ 8min 25sec
  9. Giulio Bresci @ 8min 41sec
  10. Primo Volpi s.t.

Stage 6: Friday, May 21, Siena - Roma, 240 km

  1. Luigi Casola: 7hr 44min 0sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni s.t.
  3. Oreste Conte s.t.
  4. Angelo Menon s.t.
  5. Serafino Biagioni @ 3min 30sec
  6. Nedo Logli s.t.
  7. Gildo Monari s.t.
  8. Primo Volpi @ 4min 43sec
  9. Alfredo Martini s.t.
  10. Gino Bartali s.t.

GC after Stage 6:

  1. Giordano Cottur: 40hr 20min 37sec
  2. Alfredo Martini @ 4min 31sec
  3. Angelo Brignole @ 6min 36sec
  4. Gino Bartali @ 7min 28sec
  5. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  6. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  7. Luciano Maggini @ 8min 25sec
  8. Giulio Bresci @ 8min 41sec
  9. Primo Volpi @ 8min 41sec
  10. Fiorenzo Magni @ 9min 1sec

Stage 7: Saturday, May 22, Roma - Pescara, 230 km

climbMajor ascent: Forca Caruso

  1. Antonio Bevilacqua: 7hr 9min 10sec
  2. Ubaldo Pugnaloni @ 3min 21sec
  3. Renzo Zanazzi @ 7min 26sec
  4. Alfredo Pasotti s.t.
  5. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  6. Sergio Pagliazzi @ 7min 42sec
  7. Luigi Casola s.t.
  8. Aldo Bini s.t.
  9. Oreste Conte s.t.
  10. Italo De Zan s.t.

GC after Stage 7:

  1. Giordano Cottur: 47hr 37min 29sec
  2. Alfredo Martini @ 4min 31sec
  3. Angelo Brignole @ 6min 36sec
  4. Gino Bartali @ 7min 28sec
  5. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  6. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  7. Luciano Maggini @ 8min 25sec
  8. Giulio Bresci @ 8min 41sec
  9. Primo Volpi s.t.
  10. Fiorenzo Magni @ 9min 1sec

Stage 8: Sunday, May 23, Pescara - Bari, 347 km

  1. Adolfo Leoni: 11hr 36min 38sec
  2. Oreste Conte s.t.
  3. Giovanni Corrieri s.t.
  4. Renzo Zanazzi s.t.
  5. Luigi Casola s.t.
  6. Fiorenzo Magni s.t.
  7. Quirino Toccaceli s.t.
  8. Elio Bertocchi s.t.
  9. Giovanni Ronco s.t.
  10. Marcello Paolieri s.t.

GC after Stage 8:

  1. Giordano Cottur: 59hr 14min 7sec
  2. Alfredo Martini @ 4min 31sec
  3. Angelo Brignole @ 6min 36sec
  4. Gino Bartali @ 7min 28sec
  5. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  6. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  7. Luciano Maggini @ 8min 25sec
  8. Luigi Bresci @ 8min 41sec
  9. Primo Volpi s.t.
  10. Fiorenzo Magni @ 9min 1sec

Stage 9: Tuesday, May 25, Bari - Napoli, 306 km

climbMajor Ascent: Ariano Irpino

  1. Nedo Logli: 8hr 46min 10sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni s.t.
  3. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  4. Virgilio Salimbeni s.t.
  5. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  6. Aldo Ronconi s.t.
  7. Luciano Maggini @ 4min 39sec
  8. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 56sec
  9. Giovanni Corrieri @ 6min 20sec
  10. Sergio Pagliazzi s.t.

GC after Stage 9:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 68hr 7min 45sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni 2 1min 33sec
  3. Ezio Cecchi @ 2min 29sec
  4. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 4sec
  5. Luciano Maggini @ 5min 36sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 55sec
  7. Nedo Logli @ 6min 45sec
  8. Virgilio Salimbeni @ 9min 26sec
  9. Aldo Ronconi @ 9min 50sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 10min 26sec

Stage 10: Wednesday, May 26, Napoli - Fiuggi, 187 km

  1. Italo De Zan: 5hr 9min 40sec
  2. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  3. Ubaldo Pugnaloni s.t.
  4. Primo Volpi s.t.
  5. Oreste Conte @ 9min 41sec
  6. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  7. Gino Bartali s.t.
  8. Nedo Logli s.t.
  9. Alfredo Pasotti s.t.
  10. 25 riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 10:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 73hr 27min 6sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni @ 1min 33sec
  3. Ezio Cecchi @ 2min 29sec
  4. Primo Volpi @ 4min 55sec
  5. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 4sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 55sec
  7. Nedo Logli @ 6min 45sec
  8. Serafino Biagioni @ 9min 9sec
  9. Aldo Ronconi @ 9min 50sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 10min 26sec

Stage 11: Thursday, May 27, Fiuggi - Perugia, 265 km

  1. Désiré Keteleer: 7hr 59min 40sec
  2. Virgilio Salimbeni s.t.
  3. Gino Bartali @ 4min 35sec
  4. Bruno Pasquini s.t.
  5. Mario Ricci s.t.
  6. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  7. Giuseppe Ausenda s.t.
  8. Alfredo Pasotti s.t.
  9. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  10. Primo Volpi s.t.

GC after Stage 11:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 81hr 31min 21sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni @ 1min 33sec
  3. Ezio Cecchi @ 2min 29sec
  4. Primo Volpi @ 4min 55sec
  5. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 4sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 55sec
  7. Nedo Logli @ 6min 45sec
  8. Serafino Biagioni @ 9min 9sec
  9. Aldo Ronconi @ 9min 50sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 10min 26sec

Stage 12: Saturday, May 29, Perugia - Firenze, 169 km

  1. Oreste Conte @ 4hr 38min 10sec
  2. Quirino Toccaceli s.t.
  3. Gino Bartali s.t.
  4. Aldo Bini s.t.
  5. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  6. Sergio Pagliazzi s.t.
  7. Vincenzo Rosello s.t.
  8. Giovanni Corrieri s.t.
  9. Valeriano Zanazzi s.t.
  10. Egidio Marangoni s.t.

GC after Stage 12

  1. Vito Ortelli: 86hr 9min 31sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni @ 1min 33sec
  3. Ezio Cecchi @ 2min 29sec
  4. Primo Volpi @ 4min 55sec
  5. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 4sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 55sec
  7. Nedo Logli @ 6min 45sec
  8. Serafino Biagioni @ 9min 9sec
  9. Aldo Ronconi @ 9min 50sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 10min 26sec

Stage 13: Sunday, May 30, Firenze - Bologna, 194 km

climbMajor ascent: Abetone

  1. Bruno Pasquini: 5hr 53min 30sec
  2. Alfredo Pasotti @ 55sec
  3. Adolfo Leoni @ 3min 42sec
  4. Gino Bartali s.t.
  5. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  6. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  7. Nedo logli s.t.
  8. Italo De Zan s.t.
  9. Angelo Menon
  10. Egidio Marangoni s.t.

GC after Stage 13:

  1. Vito Ortelli: 92hr 6min 43sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni @ 1min 33sec
  3. Ezio Cecchi @ 2min 29sec
  4. Primo Volpi @ 4min 55sec
  5. Angelo Brignole @ 5min 4sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 5min 55sec
  7. Nedo Logli @ 6min 45sec
  8. Serafino Biagiano @ 9min 9sec
  9. Aldo Ronconi @ 9min 50sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 10min 26sec

Stage 14: Monday, May 31, Bologna - Udine, 278 km

  1. Oreste Conte: 7hr 44min 50sec
  2. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  3. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  4. Gino Bartali s.t.
  5. Nedo Logli s.t.
  6. Désiré Keteleer s.t.
  7. Quirino Toccaceli s.t.
  8. Giuseppe Ausenda s.t.
  9. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  10. 34 riders at same time and placing

GC after Stage 14:

  1. Fiorenzo Magni: 99hr 53min 6sec
  2. Ezio Cecchi @ 56sec
  3. Primo Volpi @ 2min 26sec
  4. Angelo Brignole @ 2min 35sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 3min 26sec
  6. Vito Ortelli @ 4min 29sec
  7. Nedo Logli @ 5min 12sec
  8. Serafino Biagioni @ 7min 36sec
  9. Aldo Ronconi @ 8min 17sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 8min 53sec

Stage 15: Tuesday, June 1, Udine - Auronzo, 125 km

climbMajor ascent: Sappada

  1. Vincenzo Rossello: 3hr 29min 50sec
  2. Aldo Ronconi @ 2min 17sec
  3. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  4. Gino Bartali @ 3min 4sec
  5. Fausto Coppi s.t.
  6. Alfredo Martini s.t.
  7. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  8. Primo Volpi s.t.
  9. Angelo Menon s.t.
  10. Bartolo Bof s.t.

GC after Stage 15:

  1. Ezio Cecchi: 103hr 26min 9sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni @ 2min 18sec
  3. Primo Volpi @ 3min 13sec
  4. Angelo Brignole @ 4min 3sec
  5. Vito Ortelli @ 4min 20sec
  6. Nedo Logli @ 5min 44sec
  7. Giordano Cottur @ 6min 25sec
  8. Aldo Ronconi @ 7min 21sec
  9. Alfredo Martini @ 8min 44sec
  10. Serafino Biagioni @ 9min 54sec

Stage 16: Thursday, June 3, Auronzo - Cortina d'Ampezzo, 90 km

climbMajor ascent: Monte Croce

  1. Fausto Coppi: 2hr 30min 33sec
  2. Gino Bartali @ 3min 32sec
  3. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  4. Alfredo Pasotti s.t.
  5. Angelo Brignole s.t.
  6. Serafino Biagioni s.t.
  7. Giulio Bresci s.t.
  8. Primo Volpi s.t.
  9. Fiorenzo Magni s.t.
  10. Ezio Cecchi s.t.

GC after Stage 16:

  1. Ezio Cecchi: 105hr 50min 14sec
  2. Fiorenzo Magni @ 2min 18sec
  3. Primo Volpi @ 3min 13sec
  4. Angelo Brignole @ 4min 3sec
  5. Giordan Cottur @ 6min 23sec
  6. Vito Ortelli @ 6min 35sec
  7. Nedo Logli @ 8min 19sec
  8. Fausto Coppi @ 8min 29sec
  9. Serafino Biagioni @ 9min 54sec
  10. Aldo Ronconi @ 9min 56sec

Stage 17: Friday, June 4, Cortina d'Ampezzo - Trento, 160 km

climbMajor ascents: Falzarego, Pordoi

  1. Fausto Coppi: 4hr 38min 0sec
  2. Vito Ortelli @ 2min 31sec
  3. Alfredo Pasotti s.t.
  4. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  5. Giulio Bresci s.t.
  6. Firoenzo Magni s.t.
  7. Gino Bartali @ 7min 20sec
  8. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  9. Alfredo Martini @ 12min 20sec
  10. Mario Ricci s.t.

GC after Stage 17:

  1. Fiorenzo Magni: 110hr 35min 23sec
  2. Ezio Cecchi @ 11sec
  3. Fausto Coppi @ 1min 20sec
  4. Giordano Cottur @ 2min 37sec
  5. Vito Ortelli s.t.
  6. Primo Volpi @ 8min 24sec
  7. Angelo Brignole @ 9min 14sec
  8. Gino Bartali @ 11min 52sec
  9. Serafino Biagioni @ 15min 5sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 18min 22sec

Stage 18: Saturday, June 5, Trento - Brescia, 239 km

  1. Elio Bertocchi: 7hr 10min 12sec
  2. Virgilio Salimbeni s.t.
  3. Vincenzo Rossello s.t.
  4. Giuseppe Ausenda s.t.
  5. Bartolo Bof s.t.
  6. Egidio Marangoni @ 1min 56sec
  7. Giovanni Ronco @ 2min 29sec
  8. Gino Bartali @ 4min 17sec
  9. Aldo Bini s.t.
  10. Sergio Pagliazzi s.t.

GC after Stage 18:

  1. Fiorenzo Magni: 117hr 49min 52sec
  2. Ezio Cecchi @ 11sec
  3. Giordano Cottur @ 2min 37sec
  4. Vito Ortelli @ 2min 37sec
  5. Primo Volpi @ 8min 24sec
  6. Angelo Brignole @ 9min 14sec
  7. Giulio Bresci @ 9min 17sec
  8. Gino Bartali @ 10min 52sec
  9. Serafino Biagioni @ 15min 5sec
  10. Alfredo Martini @ 18min 22sec

19th and Final Stage: Sunday, June 6, Brescia - Milano, 231 km

  1. Fiorenzo Magni: 7hr 2min 0sec
  2. Nedo Logli s.t.
  3. Quirino Toccaceli s.t.
  4. Gino Bartali s.t.
  5. Angelo Menon s.t.
  6. Mario Ricci s.t.
  7. Giovanni Ronco s.t.
  8. Alfredo Pasotti s.t.
  9. Ubaldo Pugnaloni s.t.
  10. 31 riders at same time and placing

1948 Giro d'Italia complete final General Classification


The Story of the 1948 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.

The 1948 edition of the Giro d’Italia should join the 1922 Giro as a race of a mille polemiche (a thousand arguments).

Bartali for Legnano and Coppi for Bianchi (with Vicini since the year before and now with Ronconi but without brother Serse) were ready to throw the red meat of their seemingly endless rivalry before the ravenous tifosi. Wilier-Triestina, not content with Cottur’s results, beefed up their team by adding two (now) immortals, Fiorenzo Magni and Alfredo Martini.

Peugeot sent a team of French and Belgian riders anchored by the capable Emile Idée (five-time winner of the Critérium International) and Lygie’s team was entirely Belgian. None of the Peugeot and Lygie riders made it back to Milan.

Coppi’s 1948 Milan–San Remo was a nothing short of a triumph. The duo of Vittorio Rossello and Fermo Camellini were Coppi’s closest chasers and they arrived in San Remo more than five minutes after Coppi had soloed in. The next group, with Cottur, Vicini and Belgian great Marcel Kint showed up about nine minutes later. The main peloton containing Bartali, Magni, Ronconi and Hugo Koblet was over eleven minutes in arrears. Bartali’s spring, on the other hand, was quiet, with no notable wins.

As it had happened so often in previous Giri, the first stage to Turin was won in a break. Cottur was first across the line, followed over the next six minutes by several other riders (teammate Martini was fourth that day, at three minutes) until the main peloton arrived nine minutes after Cottur had secured the year’s first maglia rosa. To allow a rider of Cottur’s ability such a formidable margin carried a lot of risk. Yet, it’s generally thought that Coppi and Bartali were unworried and had quietly agreed to settle the Giro between themselves in the Dolomites, near the end of the three-week race.

Coppi, Bartali and Ortelli promptly reduced Cottur’s lead by about a minute the next day and whacked him for another minute in stage four. And there things stood through the end of the eighth stage in Bari:
1. Giordano Cottur
2. Alfredo Martini @ 4 minutes 31 seconds
3. Angelo Brignole @ 6 minutes 36 seconds
4. Gino Bartali @ 7 minutes 28 seconds
5. Fausto Coppi @ same time
6. Vito Ortelli @ same time

Antonio Bevilacqua

Antonio Bevilacqua wins stage seven in Pescara.

Stage nine was a 306-kilometer ordeal taking the riders over the southern Apennines on the way to Naples with the Ariano Irpino ascent the biggest obstacle. Given the stage’s length and difficulty, it’s not surprising that it was a day of huge gaps. The winning break with Magni, Ortelli and Ronconi was followed by various non-contending riders who started dribbling in four minutes after stage winner Nedo Logli. The main group with the other big guns (Coppi, Bartali, Cottur, etc.) showed up more than thirteen minutes after Logli had won the stage. La Gazzetta called the winning Magni break a fuga di bidone (an early-escaping successful break that the pack doesn’t worry about because it looks free of Classification contenders, but actually contains a potential winner of the race), but given the quality of the group, that unfairly discounts their abilities and efforts.

This stage was a game-changer because it put Ortelli in pink, Magni in second place at 1 minute 33 seconds and Cottur down six minutes. It also messed up Coppi’s and Bartali’s neat little plan for dividing up a Giro they felt was their personal property. The Magni/Ortelli break wrecked everything.

Fiorenzo Magni

Fiorenzo Magni repairs a flat, aided by Egidio Feruglio. Note that Magni's bike uses the Campagnolo Corsa gear changing system.

The top standings stayed static during the entire trip back up the peninsula for the Dolomite stages. But before the high mountains were confronted, there was another brutally long stage of 278 kilometers that took the riders from Bologna to Udine. Ortelli, flatting at an inopportune moment, lost contact with the front group that contained Magni, making Magni the new leader by the narrowest of margins. Ezio Cecchi of Cimatti, a small bicycle company in Bologna, was only 56 seconds behind.

That 56 seconds wasn’t enough to protect Magni from the rigors of the trip to Auronzo via the 1,292-meter high Sappada climb. Vincenzo Rossello claimed the day’s honors by soloing in over two minutes ahead of Ronconi and Cecchi. Bartali with Coppi, Martini and Ortelli led in the next group. Magni’s group was over five minutes slower than Rossello, making Cecchi the leader and pushing Magni back to second.

Stage sixteen was a relatively short 90-kilometer trip from Auronzo to the ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Not far out of Auronzo the riders confronted the Monte Croce pass. Coppi was first over the crest and arrived at the finish 3 minutes 32 seconds ahead of the Bartali-led chase group. Cecchi and Magni were still at the top of the standings but that short stage had elevated Coppi to eighth place, 8 minutes 29 seconds behind Cecchi.

Stage seventeen was the tappone with the Falzarego and the Pordoi. Again, Coppi was riding beautifully while Bartali had terrible luck, suffering two flats on the Falzarego. Coppi soared over both passes and arrived in Trent 2 minutes 31 seconds ahead of the Magni group. The result was to make Magni the leader again, as Cecchi hadn’t been able to join the Magni/Cottur/Ortelli chase group, while Coppi was now third, only 1 minute 20 seconds behind Magni.

Ezio Cecchi

I believe this is during stage 17: Ezio Cecchi in the maglia rosa chasing to get back on terms with the Magni group

But Coppi and Cecchi were enraged. Magni’s sponsor, Wilier, had bused in fans and stationed them at strategic points along the Pordoi. Magni’s tifosi gave their man push after push up the mountain. Protests from Bianchi demanding that Magni be heavily penalized were filed.

The judges didn’t entirely see things Coppi’s way and penalized Magni only two minutes for receiving some valuable assistance from the spectators. Now Coppi was even more furious. Feeling that it was only a nominal penalty that didn’t come close to negating the ill-gotten benefit Magni had acquired, he abandoned the Giro and took his Bianchi team with him. Coppi’s achievement over those two stages was magnificent and one can only assume that in a fair race, he would have been the leader at that point. Timers had Coppi leading Magni by six minutes on the Pordoi’s lower slopes, a gap that shrank to just two and a half minutes at the end.

With Coppi gone, Bartali out of the running and no substantial challenges remaining, Magni had won a somewhat tainted Giro d’Italia. The fans felt this was true and when Magni won the final stage at the Vigorelli velodrome he was greeted with hoots and whistles.

In fairness, Magni says this isn’t how it happened. We talked to him in 2006 and here’s the transcript of our friend Valeria Paoletti’s conversation with Magni. Though an extremely intelligent and insightful man, he professes ignorance as to why his good friend would have left the Giro with his team with only two stages to go:

VP: Let’s step back to 1948 now. You won that Giro by a razor-thin margin of 11 seconds. This would have been the first of three Giro victories and was accompanied by whistles and controversy.
FM: Yes, it was.
VP: Was this due to what happened during the seventeenth stage to Trent, with the Falzarego and Pordoi passes? Coppi won the stage and you took the pink. But it seems that you were helped with some pushes by fans. The judges handed you a penalty of 2 minutes. Coppi felt this was not enough and that the judges were helping you. He decided to quit with all his team. What happened?
FM: I don’t think this was the reason why Coppi quit, I was Coppi’s friend and, as with Bartali, nothing changed between us after this episode. I don’t know why he withdrew.
VP: Why was your victory accompanied by whistles then?
FM: This is what happens in sport. That Giro’s victory was a matter between me and Coppi and the spectators were torn between us. Coppi’s tifosi showed their letdown in Milan with their whistles.

Another great rider of the era, Alfredo Martini, says that Magni had nothing to do with the pushing he received, which nearly all the riders got. Martini also said that packing the Pordoi with Magni fans was entirely cooked up by his sponsor, not Magni. Furthermore, he said that the decision to abandon the Giro was Bianchi’s and not Coppi’s. Coppi was suspended by the Italian cycling federation for a month for his untimely departure from the Giro.

Magni’s 11-second winning margin over Ezio Cecchi was and remains the narrowest in Giro history.

Final 1948 Giro d’Italia General Classification:
1. Fiorenzo Magni (Wilier-Triestina) 124 hours 51 minutes 52 seconds
2. Ezio Cecchi (Cimatti) @ 11 seconds
3. Giordano Cottur (Wilier Triestina) @ 2 minutes 37 seconds
4. Vito Ortelli (Atala) @ same time
5. Primo Volpi (Arbos) @ 8 minutes 24 seconds

Climbers’ Competition:
1. Fausto Coppi (Bianchi)
2. Ezio Cecchi (Cimatti)
3. Gino Bartali (Legnano)

After an extraordinary victory in the Tour de France that July with three consecutive solo victories in the Alps, Bartali’s star was again ascendant and his sponsor, Legnano, saw a gigantic surge in orders.

Late that summer the Coppi and Bartali disgraced themselves at the World Championships. They were so intent upon marking each other that they slowed and let the rest of the field ride away. Coppi finished the year with a solo victory in the Tour of Lombardy.