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1973 Giro d'Italia

1973 Giro d'Italia
Race details
Dates18 May – 9 June 1973
Stages20 + Prologue
Distance3,801 km (2,362 mi)
Winning time106h 54' 41"
Winner  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Molteni)
  Second  Felice Gimondi (ITA) (Bianchi)
  Third  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) (Jolly Ceramica)

Points  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Molteni)
Mountains  José Manuel Fuente (ESP) (KAS)
  Combination  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Molteni)
  Sprints  Domingo Perurena (ESP) (KAS)
  Team points Molteni
← 1972
1974 →

The 1973 Giro d'Italia was the 56th running of the Giro, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It started in Verviers, Belgium, on 18 May, with a 5.2 km (3.2 mi) prologue and concluded with a 197 km (122 mi) mass-start stage, on 9 June. A total of 140 riders from fourteen teams entered the 20-stage race, that was won by Belgian Eddy Merckx of the Molteni team. The second and third places were taken by Italians Felice Gimondi and Giovanni Battaglin, respectively.[1][2]

In addition to the general classification, Merckx won the points classification. Amongst the other classifications that the race awarded, José Manuel Fuente of KAS won the mountains classification. Molteni finished as the winners of the team points classification.


A total of fourteen teams were invited to participate in the 1973 Giro d'Italia.[3] Each team sent a squad of ten riders, which meant that the race started with a peloton of 140 cyclists.[3] From the riders that began this edition, 113 made it to the finish on the Trieste.[4][5]

The teams entering the race were:

  • Ovest Rokado
  • Sammontana
  • Scic
  • Zonca

Pre-race favorites

Reigning and three-time champion Eddy Merckx (Molteni) announced he would race both the Vuelta a España and Giro.[6] The break between these two races was only five days.[4] Despite this, and coming off a victory at the Vuelta, Merckx entered the race favorite.[6][7] Juan Del Bosque of El Mundo Deportivo stated that with the easy route, it won't make Merckx exert much effort to win for a fourth time.[7] Merckx was believed to have a very strong team supporting him at the race, including the likes of Roger Swerts, Victor Van Schil, and Jos Deschoenmaecker, among others.[5][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]

Felice Gimondi (Bianchi), who won the race in 1967 and 1969, was not viewed to be in good condition entering the race.[7] Despite this he was still viewed as a contender for the overall crown.[5] Molteni director Giorgio Albani felt Merckx's strongest competitor would be Gimondi.[3] Albani elaborated that the Spaniards José Manuel Fuente, Francisco Galdós, and Santiago Lazcano were all dangerous riders in the mountains, but not threats for the overall crown.[3] The KAS team was regarded as a strong opponent to the Molteni squad because of their climbing prowess.[5] Specifically, the writer felt Fuente had performed very little during the 1973 campaign.[3] One writer found Roger De Vlaeminck (Brooklyn) to be a dark horse for the general classification,[3] while another source felt he would be Merckx's biggest threat.[5] Fuente ordered a bike from Faliero Maso (who made bikes for Fausto Coppi) which was said to be a very light bike which should give him more stability.[18] Former winner Gianni Motta (Zonca) also competed in the race and was viewed as a capable rider, but noted that his performances were irregular and his season had been lackluster up to that point.[5] 1971 winner Gösta Pettersson (Ferretti), was viewed as a challenger for the general classification,[7] but one writer felt he lost his "punch."[5] Italo Zilioli (Dreher), Franco Bitossi (Sammontana), and Michele Dancelli (Scic) were other Italian riders that had chances to place high in the general classification.[5]

Marino Basso (Bianchi), Gerben Karstens (Ovest Rokado), Rik Van Linden (Ovest Rokado), Patrick Sercu (Brooklyn), and Bitossi were thought to be the riders that would contend for the stages that finished in bunch sprints.[5][3][18] Van Linden and Sercu had beaten the reigning world champion Basso several times during the season so far and one writer stated that he "will have a lot to do if he wants to be worthy of his rainbow jersey."[5]

French filmmaker Claude Lelouch announced he would be making a film that centered around Merckx, which would incorporate footage from the Vuelta a España earlier in the year, along with this Giro d'Italia.[19]

Route and stages

Prior to 1973, there were rumors that the race would be starting in Belgium.[6] Race director Vincenzo Torriani revealed the race route on 5 March 1973.[6] The route was announced to be 3,777 km (2,347 mi) over the course of twenty stages that included one individual time trial, while it began with a prologue around Verviers, Wallonia.[6] The race was regarded to have six flat stages and eight "wavy" stages.[20] There were eleven stages containing twenty categorized climbs that awarded points for the mountains classification, with no summit finishes in the race.[20][5] In total, the race climbed 22.3 km (13.9 mi), 2.4 km (1.5 mi) less than the previous year. The average length of each stage was 188.85 km (117.35 mi).[6] The route did feature two rest days, on 23 May in Aosta and 4 June in Forte dei Marmi.[6] When compared to the previous year's race, the race was 52 km (32 mi) longer, included a prologue, two less individual time trails, four less summit finishes, and had the same number of rest days.

The route was announced to start in Verviers, before heading towards Italy, passing through The Netherlands, West Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Switzerland.[6] It was branded the "Tour of Europe."[6] It was reported that roughly 50 million liras were paid to the Giro d'Italia from Verviers, Cologne, and the European Economic Community.[6] The transfer from Strasbourg to Geneva was over 400 km (250 mi).[6] The route notably finished in Trieste, rather than in Milan, the normal finish for the race.[21] In addition, the route did not visit the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily, to which Squibbs from L'Impartial stated that "no one will complain" with regards to Sardinia, while Sicily he felt made the tifosi in various areas of the region "scream."[21] The route as a whole does not venture into the southern half of Italy.[21] It was believed to be that the reason for the avoidance of Milan and other larger cities in the 1973 route came from their large unruly crowds and recent social unrest.[21] The Dolomites were featured in the last two stages of the race.[21]

Upon release of the route in March, some thought it was not a difficult route and Torriani did not want to give Merckx an advantage.[6] Gino Sala of l'Unita wrote following the route's initial reveal that Torriani may throw in some obstacles before the race started that were not in the presented route in March.[6] With the announcement of the route that traveled through so many European nations, Sala speculated that Tour de France organizer Félix Lévitan would try to one-up the Giro for their 1974 race.[6] Squibbs felt the route was well balanced and intelligently designed and thought the harder portions reserved for the very end would make the race garner more interest.[21]

Stage characteristics and winners[4]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 18 May Verviers (Belgium) 5.2 km (3.2 mi) Two-man Team Time Trial[N 1]  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
 Roger Swerts (BEL)
1 19 May Verviers (Belgium) to Cologne (West Germany) 137 km (85 mi) Plain stage  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
2 20 May Cologne (West Germany) to Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) 227 km (141 mi) Plain stage  Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)
3 21 May Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) to Strasbourg (France) 239 km (149 mi) Plain stage  Gustave Van Roosbroeck (BEL)
4 22 May Geneva (Switzerland) to Aosta 163 km (101 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
23 May Rest day
5 24 May St. Vincent to Milan 173 km (107 mi) Plain stage  Gerben Karstens (NED)
6 25 May Milan to Iseo 144 km (89 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Gianni Motta (ITA)
7 26 May Iseo to Lido delle Nazioni [it] 248 km (154 mi) Plain stage  Rik Van Linden (BEL)
8 27 May Lido delle Nazioni to Monte Carpegna 156 km (97 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
9 28 May Carpegna to Alba Adriatica 243 km (151 mi) Plain stage  Patrick Sercu (BEL)
10 29 May Alba Adriatica to Lanciano 174 km (108 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
11 30 May Lanciano to Benevento 230 km (143 mi) Plain stage  Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)
12 31 May Benevento to Fiuggi 236 km (147 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Tullio Rossi (ITA)
13 1 June Fiuggi to Bolsena 215 km (134 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)
14 2 June Bolsena to Florence 202 km (126 mi) Plain stage  Francesco Moser (ITA)
15 3 June Florence to Forte dei Marmi 150 km (93 mi) Plain stage  Martín Emilio Rodríguez (COL)
4 June Rest day
16 5 June Forte dei Marmi to Forte dei Marmi 37 km (23 mi) Individual Time Trial  Felice Gimondi (ITA)
17 6 June Forte dei Marmi to Verona 244 km (152 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Rik Van Linden (BEL)
18 7 June Verona to Andalo 173 km (107 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
19 8 June Andalo to Auronzo di Cadore 208 km (129 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  José Manuel Fuente (ESP)
20 9 June Auronzo di Cadore to Trieste 197 km (122 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Marino Basso (ITA)
Total 3,801 km (2,362 mi)

Classification leadership

A picture of a mountain.
The Passo di Giau was the Cima Coppi for the 1973 running of the Giro d'Italia.

There were three main individual classifications contested in the 1973 Giro d'Italia, as well as a team competition. Three of them awarded jerseys to their leaders. The general classification was the most important and was calculated by adding each rider's finishing times on each stage.[23] The rider with the lowest cumulative time was the winner of the general classification and was considered the overall winner of the Giro.[23] The rider leading the classification wore a pink jersey to signify the classification's leadership.[23]

The second classification was the points classification. Riders received points for finishing in the top positions in a stage finish, with first place getting the most points, and lower placings getting successively fewer points.[23] The rider leading this classification wore a purple (or cyclamen) jersey.[23] The mountains classification was the third classification and its leader was designated by a green jersey. In this ranking, points were won by reaching the summit of a climb ahead of other cyclists. Each climb was ranked as either first, second or third category, with more points available for higher category climbs. Most stages of the race included one or more categorized climbs, in which points were awarded to the riders that reached the summit first. The Cima Coppi, the race's highest point of elevation, awarded more points than the other first category climbs.[23] The Cima Coppi for this Giro was the Passo di Giau. The first rider to cross the Passo di Giau was Spanish rider José Manuel Fuente.

The final classification, the team classification, awarded no jersey to its leaders. This was calculated by adding together points earned by each rider on the team during each stage through the intermediate sprints, the categorized climbs, stage finishes, etc. The team with the most points led the classification.[23]

There were other minor classifications within the race, including the neo-professional competition. The classification was determined in the same way as the general classification, but considering only neo-professional cyclists (in their first three years of professional racing). The combination classification was a points classification that was tabulated by adding the ranks of a riders position in the general, points, and mountains classifications.

Classification leadership by stage
Stage Winner General classification
Points classification
Mountains classification
Team classification
P Eddy Merckx & Roger Swerts Eddy Merckx Roger Swerts not awarded not awarded
1 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx ?
2 Roger De Vlaeminck
3 Gustave Van Roosbroeck
4 Eddy Merckx José Manuel Fuente
5 Gerben Karstens
6 Gianni Motta Eddy Merckx
7 Rik Van Linden
8 Eddy Merckx
9 Patrick Sercu
10 Eddy Merckx
11 Roger De Vlaeminck
12 Tullio Rossi
13 Roger De Vlaeminck
14 Francesco Moser
15 Martín Emilio Rodríguez Roger De Vlaeminck
16 Felice Gimondi
17 Rik Van Linden
18 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx
19 José Manuel Fuente José Manuel Fuente
20 Marino Basso
Final Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx José Manuel Fuente Molteni

Final standings

  Pink jersey   Denotes the winner of the General classification   Green jersey   Denotes the winner of the Mountains classification
  Purple jersey   Denotes the winner of the Points classification

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[2][25][26]
Rank Name Team Time
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Pink jersey Purple jersey Molteni 106h 54' 41"
2  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Bianchi + 7' 42"
3  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) Jollj Ceramica + 10' 20"
4  José Pesarrodona (ESP) KAS + 15' 51"
5  Santiago Lazcano (ESP) KAS + 19' 11"
6  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA) G.B.C. + 19' 45"
7  Ole Ritter (DEN) Bianchi + 24' 24"
8  José Manuel Fuente (ESP) Green jersey KAS + 26' 06"
9  Francisco Galdós (ESP) KAS + 26' 35"
10  Gianni Motta (ITA) Zonca + 26' 49"

Points classification[edit]

Final points classification (1–5)[25][26]
Rider Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Purple jersey Pink jersey Molteni 237
2  Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL) Brooklyn 216
3  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Bianchi 146
4  Rik Van Linden (BEL) Ovest Rokado 141
5  Gerben Karstens (NED) Ovest Rokado 132

Mountains classification[edit]

Final mountains classification (1–10)[2][25][26]
Rider Team Points
1  José Manuel Fuente (ESP) Green jersey KAS 550
2  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Pink jersey Purple jersey Molteni 510
3  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) Jollj Ceramica 180
4  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Bianchi 110
5  Lino Farisato (ITA) Scic 100
6  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA) G.B.C. 70
 Ole Ritter (DEN) Bianchi
8  Italo Zilioli (ITA) Dreher 30
 Ottavio Crepaldi (ITA) Zonca
 Santiago Lazcano (ESP) KAS

Combination classification[edit]

Final combination classification (1–4)[4][25]
Rider Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Pink jersey Purple jersey Molteni 4
2  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Bianchi 9
3  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) Jollj Ceramica 17
4  José Manuel Fuente (ESP) Green jersey KAS 18

Intermediate sprints classification[edit]

Final intermediate sprints classification (1–5)[25][26]
Rider Team Points
1  Domingo Perurena (ESP) KAS 170
2  Ercole Gualazzini (ITA) Bianchi 110
3  Gianni Motta (ITA) Zonca 70
4  Joseph Bruyère (BEL) Molteni 60
5  Enrico Paolini (ITA) Scic 40
 Piero Dallai (ITA) Magniflex

Neo-professional classification[edit]

Final neo-professional classification (1–5)[2][26]
Rider Team Time
1  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) Jollj Ceramica 107h 05' 01"
2  Francesco Moser (ITA) Filotex + 28' 22"
3  Hennie Kuiper (NED) Rokado + 28' 30"
4  Walter Riccomi (ITA) Sammontana + 1h 01' 34"
5  Luciano Conati (ITA) Scic + 1h 06' 27"

Team classification[edit]

Final team classification (1–5)[4][26]
Team Points
1 Molteni 7,731
2 Bianchi 4,434
3 Brooklyn 4,114
4 Rokado 3,534
5 KAS 3,534


The race is documented in Jørgen Leth's 1974 film Stars and Watercarriers (Stjernerne og Vandbærerne).



  1. ^ The prologue for the 1973 Giro d'Italia was not a typical prologue as it was a two-man team time trial, not the normal individual time trial. The results from the stage did not count towards the general classification,[4] but were used to determine the first wearers of the maglia rosa (English: pink jersey) and maglia ciclamino (English: mauve, or purple, jersey).[20][22] The rider with the quickest time of the two would wear the pink jersey, while the second placed rider wore the purple jersey.[20][22] Eddy Merckx finished the fastest, which allowed him to wear the pink jersey the following day, while Swerts earned the purple jersey.[22]


  1. ^ "Merckx, <<Maglia Rosa>> De Principio A Fin" [Merckx, <<Pink Jersey>> From Beginning to End] (PDF) (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportivo. 10 June 1973. p. 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Gianni Pignata (10 June 1973). "Giro-record per Merckx, sempre in rosa" [Lap-record for Merckx, always in pink] (PDF). La Stampa (in Italian). Editrice La Stampa. p. 22. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Merckx ook favoriet in Ronde van Italie" [Merckx also Favorite in Tour of Italy]. Tubantia (in Dutch). 18 May 1973. p. 27 – via Delpher.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Bill and Carol McGann. "1973 Giro d'Italia". Bike Race Info. Dog Ear Publishing. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Merckx et une très forte équipe contre tous!" [Merckx and a very strong team against all!] (PDF). L'Impartial (in French). 18 May 1973. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2019 – via RERO.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gino Sala (6 March 1971). "Così il Giro d'Italia 1973" [Thus the Giro d'Italia 1973] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Juan Del Bosque (18 May 1973). "Salvo accidentes, ya conocemos el nombre del vencedor" [Except for accidents, we already know the name of the winner] (PDF) (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportivo. p. 21. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  8. ^ Gino Sala (18 May 1973). "Comincia il 56 Giro d'Italia: oggi il <<prologo>> di Verviers" [The 56 Giro d'Italia begins: today the <<prologue>> of Verviers] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Il Pronostico Dice Merckx La Quarta Volta" [The Prediction Says Merckx The Fourth Time] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Ecco I Loro Pronostici Firmati" [Here are their signed predictions] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Eddy Merckx non aspetterà le Dolomiti" [Eddy Merckx will not wait for the Dolomites] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Un Percorso Per Boifava" [A Course for Boifava] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Roger De Vlaeminck propone un nuovo e affaccinante tema" [Roger De Vlaeminck proposes a new and fascinating theme] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  14. ^ "L'estroso Bitossi e due speranze che si chiamano Riccomi e Osler" [The whimsical Bitossi and two hopes called Riccomi and Osler] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  15. ^ "L'orgoglio e le doti di Gimondi piu Basso, Ritter e Rodriguez..." [The pride and skills of Gimondi Basso, Ritter and Rodriguez ...] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Francesco Moser a briglie sciolte per la grande avventura" [Francesco Moser at full speed for the great adventure] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 15. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Gosta Pettersson nel pronostico per la maglia rosa" [Gosta Pettersson in the prediction for the pink jersey] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  18. ^ a b Nino Tamadesso (18 May 1973). "De vraag luidt: Wie kan Merckx in Du Giro verslaan?" [The Question is: Who Can Beat Merckx in the Giro]. Limburgs Dagblad (in Dutch). p. 1 – via Delpher.
  19. ^ "Film Over Eddie Merckx" [Move About Eddy Merckx]. Het Vrije Volk (in Dutch). 18 May 1973. p. 23 – via Delpher.
  20. ^ a b c d "Il Giro di ieri e di Oggi" [The Tour of Yesterday and Today] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 16 May 1973. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Squibbs (18 May 1973). "Le premier des "gros morceaux " !" [The first of the "big pieces"!] (PDF). L'Impartial (in French). p. 25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2019 – via RERO.
  22. ^ a b c Gino Sala (19 May 1973). "Eddy Parte In Rosa" [Eddy Starts in Pink] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g Laura Weislo (13 May 2008). "Giro d'Italia classifications demystified". Cycling News. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  24. ^ "Tour.Giro.Vuelta". Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  25. ^ a b c d e "Clasificaciones oficiales" [Official classifications] (PDF) (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportivo. 10 June 1973. p. 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  26. ^ a b c d e f "I primi venti del 1973" [The first twenty of 1973] (PDF). l'Unità (in Italian). PCI. 9 June 1974. p. 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 March 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
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1973 Giro d'Italia
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