If you watch Jørgen Leth’s great documentary about the 1973 Giro d’Italia, “Stars and Water Carriers” (Stjernerne og vandbærerne), you may remember Merckx vs Battaglin battle at stage 8 on Monte Carpegna.

On one of the early climbs of the day, Eddy Merckx escaped bringing Spanish climber José Manuel Fuente (KAS) and the young Italian Giovanni Battaglin (Jollj Ceramica) along for company. Foolishly, Fuente took his pulls with the powerful Belgian and after having burned his matches, was spit out the back.

Then Merckx and Battaglin sped over the hills and they distanced themselves from the peloton. Merckx tried to drop Battaglin, attacked on every occasion, but for a long time, wasn’t able to lose his young Italian companion. Finally, Merckx dropped Battaglin, and raced into Monte Carpegna 45 seconds ahead of him and more than four minutes ahead of the first chaser, Italo Zilioli.

Here is the photo of that historic moment below:

Merckx vs Battaglin, 1973 Giro
Eddy Merckx vs Giovanni Battaglin, 1973 Giro d’Italia, Stage 8 (Monte Carpegna). Battaglin: “I’m done…”
Stars and The Water Carriers by Jørgen Leth: The 1973 Giro d’Italia (with better coloring). The images from the Tour de France in the television production Eddy Merckx in the vicinity of a cup of coffee may be seen as a small sketch for the fully unfurled epic cycling drama Stars and Water Carriers. The film follows the 1973 Giro d’Italia and in his commentary, Leth explains the fascination exerted by the great cycle races: “The most beautiful, most pathetic images cycling can give us involve extreme performances in classic terrain…”

And Fuente? He finished the stage with painful cramps in his legs, lost 17 minutes to Merckx. He was in such a bad state, he thought he needed a doctor. Fortunately, he was fine and the next morning was fit to start the next stage, but his overall chances were over.

1973 Giro d’Italia Final General Classification:

  1. Eddy Merckx (Molteni): 106 hr 54min 41sec
  2. Felice Gimondi (Bianchi) @ 7min 42sec
  3. Giovanni Battaglin (Jolly Ceramica) @ 10min 20sec
  4. José Pesarrondona (KAS) @ 15min 51sec
  5. Santiago Lazcano (KAS) @ 19min 11sec
  6. Wladimiro Panizza (G.B.C.)@ 19min 45sec
  7. Ole Ritter (Bianchi) @ 24min 24sec
  8. José-Manuel Fuente (KAS) @ 26min 6sec

Read more: 1973 Giro d’Italia, bikeraceinfo.com

M. Özgür Nevres

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