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HONORING THE CLUB OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN IS A TRIBUTE TO THE HISTORY OF CYCLING

The tribute to the “magnificent seven” who have achieved at least one victory in each of the three major stage races over the course of their careers, aims to enhance a company whose reach is usually realized only after many years. In my case, a single champion succeeded – Jacques Anquetil – before I could put my name in this small and prestigious club to which only seven riders in the history of cycling belong.

Paradoxically, the greatness of this enterprise is also confirmed by the fact that it has remained inaccessible to some extraordinary multi-stage race winners, one of them Miguel Indurain, and even before him Fausto Coppi. It is also true that this has to do with the different way of approaching the great rides by the different generations of athletes that have succeeded each other.

The debate in the cycling of our days focuses mainly on the possibility of being able to face and win two major stage races – in particular Giro d’Italia and Tour de France – in the same season. Although I did not succeed (going very close, sometimes), I can testify that this is not an inaccessible goal, even if it requires a program of the season decidedly focused on the big stage races, putting the rest in a suborder. A rule that has always been good for everyone but one, I am referring to my friend Eddy Merckx.

Being able to win the three major stage races is instead a goal of perspective, which delivers an athlete to history. The last one to have completed the “triplete”, just a few months ago, was Chris Froome, with the conquest of the Giro d’Italia. The same Froome a few months before (but we were still in 2017) had added the Vuelta to his collection of four Tour de France.

It is therefore evident that if the list is extended with names of the last generation (before Froome, there was Vincenzo Nibali, who was followed by Alberto Contador and Bernard Hinault) it means that the company is possible, and maybe we can to welcome the fact that cycling is returning to be more human, though programmed and too much a slave to technology.

Dedicating this edition of our race to the seven giants of the “grand slam” is a recognition that disregards any will to establish who was the greatest of all, also because I do not think there would be many doubts about it: it would always be a plebiscite for Eddy Merckx. However, we belong to periods that are too different to make comparisons. What counts is having maintained over time the search for a historical result as an objective that gives meaning to the career. And this applies equally to all seven, as the “special edition” of our Granfondo is to prove.

 

 

Felice Gimondi

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