Cima Coppi History (1980-1989)

History of the Cima Coppi (1980-1989), the summit with highest altitude reached by cyclists during the Giro d’Italia, the Italian grand tour. Cima Coppi was established in 1965, five years after the death of the “Il Campionissimo” (champion of champions) Fausto Coppi.

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1980: Passo dello Stelvio (2,758 m / 9,049 ft), Jean-René Bernaudeau (FRA)

The Stelvio was featured in the 20th stage. Before the stage, Bernard Hinault (Renault-Gitane) was in second place in GC, 1 min 8 sec behind Wladimiro Panizza (Gis Gelati). The Italian riders were combined their forces against him. But at that stage, a 221 km trip between Cles and Sondrio, the Renault-Gitane team managed to put 3 of his gregari, including Jean-René Bernaudeau into the breakaway. On the Stelvio, Bernaudeau was able to ride away from the others in the breakaway group. Then, Hinault attacked and caught Bernaudeau. Hinault’s gregario was first atop Stelvio. After stelvio, the Renault-Gitane pair had to ride about 80 kilometers further to Sondrio. They managed to extend their lead over Panizza. Hinault let Bernaudeau take the stage while Hinault took the lead.

Hinault won the 1980 Giro d’Italia and became the second Frenchman to win the Italian grand tour, after Jacques Anquetil. Bernaudeau finished in 12th place, 28 min 18 sec behind him.

1981: Tre Cime di Lavaredo (2,320 m / 7,612 ft), Beat Breu (SUI)

Stage 20 featured two major ascents: Tre Croci and Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Swiss climber Beat Breu of Cilo-Aufina team was first both atop the Tre Croci and to the top of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
The GC was very close and after stage 19, the top four riders were only 30 seconds apart. Silvano Contini (Bianchi) was leading the GC, and Battaglin was second at 3 seconds. But, on the stage 30, Giovanni Battaglin rode really good on Tre Cime and became the new leader. He cemented his victory in the final stage with an excellent time trial in Verona.

Breu finished in eight overall, 10 min 2 sec behind Battaglin.

1982: Col d’Izoard (2,361 m / 7,746 ft), Lucien Van Impe (BEL)

The penultimate stage (21) was a monster: it was a 254 km long going from Cuneo to Pinerolo, featuring five major ascents: Maddelena, Vars, Izoard, Montgenèvre and Sestriere. This was the same route used in stage seventeen of the historic 1949 Giro where Fausto Coppi had displayed extraordinary superiority, beating Gino Bartali by 12 minutes.

Lucien Van Impe, the Belgian rider of Metauro Mobili team was first atop Izoard. Giuseppe Saronni (Del Tongo) won the stage. Van Impe finished this Giro in fourth place, 4 min 31 sec behind the eventual winner Bernard Hinault.

1983: Passo Pordoi (2,239 m / 7,346 ft), Marino Lejarreta (ESP)

The monster 20th stage of the 1983 Giro d’Italia, a 169 km going from Selva di Val Gardena to Arabba, featured four (five) major ascents: Campolongo, Pordoi, Sella, Gardena and again Campolongo. The first rider to cross the Pordoi Pass was the Spanish rider Marino Lejarreta (Alfa Lum). Alessandro Paganessi (Bianchi) won the stage. The overall winner was Giuseppe Saronni (Del Tongo). Lejarreta finished in sixth place, 7 min 47 sec behind the winner.

1984: Passo Pordoi (2,239 m / 7,346 ft), Laurent Fignon (FRA)

The very same stage with the previous year, again 20th leg. Laurent Fignon, the French star of Renault-Elf escaped on the Pordoi and never seen again. He arrived into Arabba 2 minutes 19 seconds ahead of Francesco Moser (Gis Gelati) and took the GC lead.

But, in the final time trial, a 42 kilometer route from Soave to Verona, Moser rode a road version of his aerodynamic World Hour Record bike and won the stage in 49 minutes 26 seconds. Fignon came in second, 2 minutes 24 seconds slower. Moser’s average speed of 50.977 kilometers an hour is the fastest-ever time trial longer than 20 kilometers – a record still stands.

Fignon finished second in GC, 1 min 3 sec behind Moser.

According to Fignon in his autobiography “We Were Young And Carefre”, during the 1984 Giro, Moser received a lot of help on the climbs from the Italian fans on the roadside. “Chains of tifosi had lined the cols to push him up. The referees helped as well by fining me twenty seconds for taking a feed outside the permitted area.”

“They knew I was capable of winning the Giro and they made sure I lost. They knew Moser couldn’t have followed me. He was being pushed all the time and he was never penalized. I got penalties. Everyone got penalties, but not him.”

Also, it was later alleged that the TV helicopter had flown directly in front of Fignon during the time-trial creating a headwind, but behind Moser, creating a tailwind.

But, one must always take a cyclist’s claims with a pinch of salt.

1985: Passo del Sempione (2,005 m / 6,578 ft), Reynel Montoya (COL)

19th stage was a 247 km going from Domodossola to St. Vincent featuring two major ascents (Sempione and Gran San Bernardo). But, before the stage, riders surprisingly learned out that the race director, Vincenzo Torriani had removed the last six kilometers (the steepest part) of the Gran San Bernardo pass from the day’s route.

Stage nineteen had the Simplon and Gran San Bernardo Passes, and at the unveiling of the route, the entire Gran San Bernardo Pass was to be climbed. When the day’s route maps were passed out, it turned out that Torriani had removed the steep final section of the top of the Gran San Bernardo from the day’s schedule, stopping at the entrance to the tunnel, six kilometers from the summit. Bernard Hinault (La Vie Claire) was leading the GC 1:30 ahead of Francesco Moser (Gis Gelati). The new “shortened” course with the steepest part removed obviously favored Moser, so Hinault wasn’t happy with that weird decision.

Reynel Montoya, the Colombian climber of Varta-Cafe de Colombia team was first atop Sempione. At the end of the stage, a big pack containing 53 riders including the favorites came to the line together and Moser (as predicted) was the winner. He took the 20 seconds of time bonuses.

Despite this, Hinault won the 1985 Giro. Reynel Montoya finished in 45th, 1 hr 3 min 5 sec to Hinault.

1986: Passo Pordoi (2,239 m / 7,346 ft), Pedro Muñoz (ESP)

Stage 21, the penultimate stage of the 1986 Giro was a 234 km going from Bassano del Grappa to Bolzano featured four major climbs (Rolle, Pordoi, Campolongo and Gardena). Spanish climber Pedro Muñoz (Fagor) was fist atop Pordoi. Acácio Da Silva (Malvor-Bottecchia) won the stage. Roberto Visentini (Carrera) won the GC, Muñoz finished in 10th, 11 min 52 sec behind the winner.

1987: Passo Pordoi (2,239 m / 7,346 ft), Jean-Claude Bagot (FRA)

There were five major ascents at the stage 16, a 214 km going from Sappada to Canazei: Croce Comelico, Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Marmolada. French rider Jean-Claude Bagot (Fagor) was first atop Pordoi. Johan Van der Velde (Gis Gelati-Jolly Scarpe) won the stage.

The Irishman Stephen Roche (Carrera) won the 1987 Giro. Jean-Claude Bagot finished in 25th, at 36 min 30 sec.

1988: Passo dello Stelvio (2,758 m / 9,049 ft), was not climbed

The fifteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia was originally scheduled to start in Bormio and go up the south face of the Passo dello Stelvio with the finish at the Merano 2000 ski station. But, it was snowing atop the Stelvio, so the race director, Vincenzo Torriani had the race start over the hill in Spondigna, just beyond the Stelvio descent. The Passo dello Stelvio was not climbed due to snow drifts that had developed on the roads.

1988 Giro was won by Andy Hampsten (7 Eleven) in a sansational style. He became the first (and to date, the only) American rider to won the Italian grand tour.

Andy Hampsten climbing Passo di Gavia, Giro 1988
Andy Hampsten climbing Passo di Gavia, Giro d’Italia 1988.
Andy Hampsten’s Passo di Gavia ride at the 1988 Giro d’Italia was sensational. In the legendary stage fourteen of the 1988 Giro d’Italia with its crossing of the Aprica, a 120-kilometer trip partway up the Tonale and then a left turn up the south face of the Gavia pass with a final steep, technical descent into Bormio. The day was wet and cold. Until the start Torriani had been considering an alternate route because of the possibility of bad weather. It would end up being, in the words of La Gazzetta, “the day the big men cried.”
Over the first two climbs, the cold, wet riders stayed together. When they began ascending the Gavia with its patches of fifteen percent gradient (back then, only the Gavia’s switchback turns were paved), it began to snow and as the riders continued up the pass, it got ever colder. Johan Van der Velde, in just shorts and short sleeves, was first over the top. He was followed a few seconds later by Breukink, Hampsten and then by Chioccioli and Marco Giovannetti.
Breukink and Hampsten had dropped the Italians well before the summit and crested together. The conditions were appalling; the road was frozen and when the riders began the descent, their brakes wouldn’t work on the frozen rims. Some had their gears jammed up with ice. Van der Velde gave up, dismounted his bike, waited for warmer clothes to be brought from the team car and descended the steepest part of the pass on foot. He lost 47 minutes that day.
Hampsten and Breukink pressed on down the steep, icy descent and into Bormio where Breukink won the sprint.
Andy Hampsten became the first American, and non-European, to win the Giro d’Italia.

1989: Passo di Gavia (2,621 m / 8,599 ft), was not climbed

The sixteenth stage containing the Gavia pass was cancelled as a whole due to poor weather and snow accumulation on the roads. Laurent Fignon (Super U) won the 1989 Giro d’Italia.

Previous: Cima Coppi History (1965-1979)
Next: Cima Coppi History (1990-1999)


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