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1959 Giro d'Italia

1959 Giro d'Italia
Race details
Dates16 May - 7 June 1959
Distance3,657 km (2,272 mi)
Winning time101h 50' 26"
Winner  Charly Gaul (LUX) (EMI)
  Second  Jacques Anquetil (FRA) (Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson)
  Third  Diego Ronchini (ITA) (Bianchi–Pirelli)

  Mountains  Charly Gaul (LUX) (EMI)
  Team Atala–Pirelli–Lygi
← 1958
1960 →

The 1959 Giro d'Italia was the 42nd running of the Giro d'Italia, one of cycling's Grand Tour races. The Giro started in Milan, on 16 May, with a 135 km (83.9 mi) stage and concluded back in Milan, on 7 June, with a 220 km (136.7 mi) leg. A total of 120 riders from 15 teams entered the 20-stage race, which was won by Luxembourgian Charly Gaul of the EMI team. The second and third places were taken by Frenchman Jacques Anquetil and Italian Diego Ronchini, respectively.[1]


In the weeks preceding the Giro's start, Jacques Anquetil and the Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson team were interested in participating in the race; however, they desired an appearance fee.[2] After calls were made, the team eventually settled on coming to the race.[2] Ultimately, thirteen teams were invited by the race organizers to participate in the 1959 edition of the Giro d'Italia.[3] Each team sent a squad of ten riders, which meant that the race started with a peloton of 130 cyclists.[3] The teams were primarily composed of Italian riders except Faema–Guerra and Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson.[4] From the riders that began the race, 86 made it to the finish in Milan.[4]

The teams entering the race were:[3][5]

Pre-race favorites

Jacques Anquetil and Charly Gaul were seen as favorites to win the race.[6] Anquetil entered the Giro with a formidable Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson team that included the likes of 1958 Vuelta a España winner Jean Stablinski, the 1958 Tour de France's most "elegant" rider Edouard Delberghe, Irishman Seamus Elliot, and Jean Graczyk.[7] When asked about his chances to win the race Anquetil stated: "I know that I am in good shape. If I am beaten, it will mean there are better riders than myself in the race."[7] Reigning world champion Ercole Baldini was seen as a contender to win the race, but due to an operation at the beginning of the cycling season he entered the race weighing more than normal.[8] Charly Gaul entered as a previous winner of the Giro d'Italia in 1956 Giro d'Italia, as well as the reigning champion of the Tour de France.[4]

Faema–Guerra's Rik Van Looy had desires to win a Grand Tour during his career and had previously raced the Giro in 1955 and Vuelta a España in 1958, not finishing either race.[4] However, during the 1959 campaign, Looy won the Giro di Sardegna and Vuelta a Levante, as well as finishing third in the Vuelta a España.[4] Faema–Guerra entered with a completely Belgian team except for German Hans Junkerman and had gotten the nickname "Red Guard" because of their red jerseys, the team was well known for setting up Looy for stage victories.[4] Miguel Poblet stated he was not there just to win stages.[9]

Route and stages

Cyclists talking and riding together.
Jacques Anquetil (left) and Charly Gaul (right) riding together during the fourth stage of the race.

The route for the race was released on 2 April 1959 at the Casino della Valle in Saint Vincent in front of journalists, local dignitaries, and various industrialists.[10][11][12][13] There were four individual time trials within the race of which one, stage 7, was a climbing time trial up to Mount Vesuvius.[10][12] Ten stages contained a total 15 categorized climbs.[12] The only rest day was scheduled on 27 May in Rimini.[10][12] The race consisted of 22 days of racing and was covered 3,657 km (2,272 mi).[12]

Regarding the route for the Giro d'Italia, Corriere dello Sport writer Cesare Facetti felt that the route was very difficult and would make it very difficult for a rider to complete the Giro d'Italia and be successful in the Tour de France in late June.[12]

Stage characteristics and winners[4]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
1 16 May Milan to Salsomaggiore Terme 135 km (84 mi) Plain stage  Rik Van Looy (BEL)
2 17 May Salsomaggiore Terme to Salsomaggiore Terme 22 km (14 mi) Individual time trial  Jacques Anquetil (FRA)
3 18 May Salsomaggiore Terme to Abetone 180 km (112 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Charly Gaul (LUX)
4 19 May Abetone to Arezzo 178 km (111 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Armando Pellegrini (ITA)
5 20 May Arezzo to Rome 243 km (151 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Rik Van Looy (BEL)
6 21 May Rome to Naples 213 km (132 mi) Plain stage  Miguel Poblet (ESP)
7 22 May Ercolano to Mount Vesuvius 8 km (5 mi) Individual time trial  Charly Gaul (LUX)
8 23 May Ischia to Ischia 31 km (19 mi) Individual time trial  Antonino Catalano (ITA)
9 24 May Naples to Vasto 206 km (128 mi) Plain stage  Gastone Nencini (ITA)
10 25 May Vasto to Teramo 148 km (92 mi) Plain stage  Rino Benedettii (ITA)
11 26 May Ascoli Piceno to Rimini 245 km (152 mi) Plain stage  Rik Van Looy (BEL)
12 27 May Rimini to City of San Marino (San Marino) 141 km (88 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Nino Defilippis (ITA)
28 May Rest day
13 29 May Rimini to Verona 233 km (145 mi) Plain stage  Miguel Poblet (ESP)
14 30 May Verona to Rovereto 143 km (89 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Rik Van Looy (BEL)
15 31 May Trento to Bolzano 198 km (123 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Miguel Poblet (ESP)
16 1 June Bolzano to San Pellegrino Terme 245 km (152 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Alessandro Fantini (ITA)
17 2 June San Pellegrino Terme to Genoa 241 km (150 mi) Plain stage  Arigo Padovan (ITA)
18 3 June Genoa to Turin 180 km (112 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Vito Favero (ITA)
19 4 June Turin to Susa 51 km (32 mi) Individual time trial  Jacques Anquetil (FRA)
20 5 June Turin to Saint-Vincent 100 km (62 mi) Plain stage  Alfredo Sabbadin (ITA)
21 6 June Aosta to Courmayeur 296 km (184 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Charly Gaul (LUX)
22 7 June Courmayeur to Milan 220 km (137 mi) Plain stage  Rolf Graf (SUI)
Total 3,657 km (2,272 mi)

Race overview

The race began with the introductions in the Duomo square in front of the Milan cathedral, with Baldini received the loudest ovation upon his introduction.[7] The opening leg finished at the famed Spa town Salsomaggiore.[7] During the stage, only one breakaway was able to sustain a lengthy advantage over the peloton and that came 76 km (47 mi) into the race with a solo attack by Darrigade (Helyett).[14] He managed to win the intermediate sprint on the course before being joined by six riders and another twenty as the stage wound down; however, the escapees were caught with 8 km (5 mi) to go.[14] The day ended with a bunch sprint won by Belgian Rik Van Looy.[7][14]

Gino Bartali next to Rik Van Looy, stage winner and first pink jersey of the 42nd Giro

The following stage was the first individual time trial of the race, which Anquetil was favored to win.[8][14] Anquetil won the day by twenty-five seconds ahead of Rolf Graf and assumed the race lead.[7][14] He rode the stage on a 52 x 13 gear, which when Gaul found out following the stage said "Nobody, not even Anquetil, can push that gear."[8] The first summit finish came with the third leg that ended on the Abetone.[8] A twelve-man group containing Looy and Jos Hoevenaers reached the climb first, while a second major group containing the favorites likes Anquetil and Gaul reached the climb after.[14] Gaul attacked at the beginning of the climb and reached the first group alone.[8][14] He rode with them for a short time before attacking and going on solo to win the stage and take the race lead.[8][14]

Around 49 km (30 mi) into the fourth stage, near Pistoie, a group of nine broke away from the peloton and established a lead of five minutes that soon grew to eleven as the stage progressed.[15] The peloton reacted and began to increase their tempo, but they did not catch the breakaway.[15] In the breakaway, some riders cracked leaving Arturo Neri, Armando Pellegrini, Aurelio Cestari, and Gastone Nencini at the front.[15] Pellegrini edged out Cestari and Nencini to take the stage, while Neri dropped before the finish line and finished four seconds behind.[15]

During the sixth leg into Naples, Seamus Elliot (Helyett–Pontin) attacked from the leading breakaway as the stage came to a close, primarily because of sprinter Miguel Poblet's (Ignis) presence in the breakaway.[8] He went under one kilometer left before he cramped with 400 m (1,312 ft) remaining and was overtaken.[8] Poblet won the stage, while Elliot held on to get 10th place.[4][8] The next day's stage was a 9 km (6 mi) climbing individual time trial along a road on Mount Vesuvius, which ended at the observatory on the volcano.[8] As the riders began the time trial in reverse of the standings for the general classification, contenders Anquetil and Gaul were the final two to get on the course.[8] Anquetil again chose a larger gear (45 x 20), while Gaul chose a smaller gear (45 x 23).[16] Anquetil was faster over the initial stretch of the race which covered the cobblestones, but after that stretch, Gaul closed the gap. Gaul finished eight seconds after Anquetil did, winning the stage by 37 seconds over Guido Boni (Tricofilina).[4][16] A 31 km (19 mi) time trial followed the next day, but this time it was around the island of Ischia.[16] The course was rather hilly and was won by Antonino Catalano (Bianchi), while with respect to the general classification, Anquetil managed to gain 22 seconds on Gaul.[16]

San Marino was the destination of the twelfth leg and it could be reached by one road when entering from Romini, a steep and rough road. The course featured two and a half circuits before its conclusion uphill.[16] Anquetil attacked on the flat roads before the final climb and Nino Defilippis won the stage.[4] Anquetil, who placed third, gained time he gained on the general classification contenders, put him 34 seconds behind the leader Gaul.[4][16]

After the leading riders had crossed the Costalunga during the fifteenth day, Gaul descended with an advantage on a group containing Poblet, Anquetil, and Van Looy.[16] The riders caught and passed Gaul when he suffered a puncture on the descent.[16] The trio opened a large gap and Poblet won the stage, while Gaul crossed 2 minutes and 33 seconds behind.[16] This loss gave Anquetil the race lead.[16]

In the 51 km (32 mi) time trial to Susa, Anquetil caught Gaul 22 km (14 mi) into the stage.[17] Gaul proceeded to ride in Anquetil's slipstream for the remainder of the stage before Anquetil dropped him in the final kilometer.[17]

Classification leadership

One jersey was worn during the 1959 Giro d'Italia. The leader of the general classification – calculated by adding the stage finish times of each rider – wore a pink jersey. This classification is the most important of the race, and its winner is considered as the winner of the Giro.[18]

The mountains classification leader. The climbs were ranked in first and second categories. In this ranking, points were won by reaching the summit of a climb ahead of other cyclists. There were two categories of mountains.[19] The first category awarded 80, 60, 40, 30, and 20 points,[20] while the second distributed 60, 40, and 20 points.[21] Although no jersey was awarded, there was also one classification for the teams, in which the teams were awarded points for their rider's performance during the stages.[22]

Classification leadership by stage
Stage Winner General classification
A pink jersey
Mountains classification Team classification
1 Rik Van Looy Rik Van Looy not awarded Faema–Guerra
2 Jacques Anquetil Jacques Anquetil
3 Charly Gaul Charly Gaul Charly Gaul
4 Armando Pellegrini Charly Gaul & Armando Pellegrini EMI
5 Rik Van Looy Charly Gaul & Joseph Hoevenars Faema–Guerra
6 Miguel Poblet
7 Charly Gaul Charly Gaul
8 Antonino Catalano
9 Gastone Nencini EMI
10 Rino Benedettii
11 Rik Van Looy Faema–Guerra
12 Nino Defilippis EMI
13 Miguel Poblet Faema–Guerra
14 Rik Van Looy EMI
15 Miguel Poblet Jacques Anquetil
16 Alessandro Fantini
17 Arigo Padovan Atala–Pirelli–Lygi
18 Vito Favero
19 Jacques Anquetil
20 Alfredo Sabbadin
21 Charly Gaul Charly Gaul
22 Rolf Graf
Final Charly Gaul Charly Gaul Atala–Pirelli–Lygi

Final standings

  Pink jersey   Denotes the winner of the General classification

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[4][23]
Rank Name Team Time
1  Charly Gaul (LUX) Pink jersey EMI 101h 50' 54"
2  Jacques Anquetil (FRA) Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson + 6' 12"
3  Diego Ronchini (ITA) Bianchi–Pirelli + 6' 16"
4  Rik Van Looy (BEL) Faema–Guerra + 7' 17"
5  Imerio Massignan (ITA) Legnano–Pirelli + 7' 31"
6  Miguel Poblet (ESP) Ignis–Frejus + 10' 21"
7  Graziano Battistini (ITA) Legnano–Pirelli + 10' 47"
8  Guido Carlesi (ITA) Molteni + 13' 35"
9  Ernesto Bono (ITA) San Pellegrino + 13' 36"
10  Gastone Nencini (ITA) Carpano + 13' 49"

Mountains classification[edit]

Final mountains classification (1–10)[4][23]
Name Team Points
1  Charly Gaul (LUX) Pink jersey EMI 560
2  Imerio Massignan (ITA) Legnano–Pirelli 320
3  Hans Junkermann (GER) Faema–Guerra 300
4  Vito Favero (ITA) Atala–Pirelli–Lygi 250
5  Graziano Battistini (ITA) Legnano–Pirelli 110
6  Joseph Hoevenars (BEL) Faema–Guerra 100
 Aurelio Cestari (ITA) Atala–Pirelli–Lygi
 Angelo Conterno (ITA) Carpano
9  Pasquale Fornara (ITA) EMI 90
10  Armando Pellegrini (ITA) EMI 80
 Jacques Anquetil (FRA) Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson
 Rik Van Looy (BEL) Faema–Guerra
 Michele Gismondi (ITA) Tricofilina
 André Darrigade (FRA) Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson
 Nino Defilippis (ITA) Carpano

Team classification[edit]

Final team classification (1–10)[1][22]
Team Points
1 Atala–Pirelli–Lygi 4115
2 EMI 3830
3 Faema–Guerra 2990
4 Carpano 2700
5 Helyett–Leroux–Fynsec–Hutchinson 2070
6 Legnano–Pirelli 2035
7 Ignis–Frejus 1980
8 Ghigi–Ganna 1555
9 Molteni 1190
10 Bianchi–Pirelli 1157.5


This was the first edition of the Giro d'Italia where an Italian did not lead the general classification after any stage.[24] La Gazzetta wrote that the collective performance of the Italians in the Giro did not live up to expectations.[24]



  1. ^ a b "El luxemburgués Gaul gran vencedor" [The Luxembourish Gaul Big Winner] (PDF) (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportivo. 8 June 1959. p. 7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b De La Tour 1959, p. 30-31.
  3. ^ a b c "I corridori alla partenza" [Runners at the Start]. Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). 17 May 1959. p. 6. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bill and Carol McGann. "1959 Giro d'Italia". Bike Race Info. Dog Ear Publishing. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  5. ^ "Gli Invitati" [The Guests] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1959. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  6. ^ Attilio Camoriano (16 May 1959). "Buona fortuna "Giro"!" [Good luck "Giro"?] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f De La Tour 1959, p. 31.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k De La Tour 1959, p. 32.
  9. ^ "<<Mi actuacion en el "Giro" No se Reducira a Ganar Etapas>> - afirma Poblet" [<< My performance in the "Giro" will not be reduced to Win Stages >> - says Poblet] (PDF) (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportivo. 16 May 1959. p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "Questo il 42 "Giro"" [This the '42 Giro] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 3 April 1959. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  11. ^ "Giudizi sul "Giro"" ["Tour" reviews] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 4 April 1959. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Cesare Facetti (3 April 1959). "Il Giro d'Italia 1959" [The 1959 Tour of Italy]. Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). p. 1 & 7. Archived from the original on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  13. ^ "La 42 Vuelta a Italia organizada por la Gazzetta dello Sport de Milan" [The 42 Tour of Italy organized by the Gazzetta dello Sport of Milan] (PDF) (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportivo. 3 April 1959. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-05-01. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h "Grote Mannen weren zich in de Ronde van Italië" [Great Men resist the Tour of Italy]. De Tijd De Maasbode (in Dutch). 19 May 1959. p. 8 – via Delpher.
  15. ^ a b c d "Gaul moet hard werken om rose trui te behouden Pellegrini wint de vierde etappe" [Gaul has to work hard to keep pink jersey Pellegrini wins the fourth stage]. De Tijd De Maasbode (in Dutch). 20 May 1959. p. 6 – via Delpher.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j De La Tour 1959, p. 33.
  17. ^ a b De La Tour 1959, p. 34.
  18. ^ Laura Weislo (13 May 2008). "Giro d'Italia classifications demystified". Cycling News. Future Publishing Limited. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Il G. P. della Montagna" [The G. P. Mountain Trophy]. Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). 17 May 1959. p. 8. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  20. ^ "G. P. della Montagna" [The G. P. Mountain Trophy]. Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). 19 May 1959. p. 6. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  21. ^ "Il G. P. della Montagna" [The G. P. Mountain Trophy]. Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). 20 May 1960. p. 8. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  22. ^ a b "La pagella "Ramazzotti"" [La pagella "Ramazzotti"]. Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). 8 June 1959. p. 14. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Graf fugge in vista di Milano e vince con 8" di vantaggio" [Graf flees in view of Milan and won with 8 "lead]. l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 8 June 1959. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  24. ^ a b "1959". Giro d'Italia. La Gazzetta dello Sport. 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-07-01. Retrieved 13 June 2017.


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