Tuesday, August 7, 2007

2008: Italy Is Hosting 4 World Championships

Italy will be in the international cycling spotlight four times in 2008 as it hosts varying World Championships. The first Worlds to be held will be cyclo-cross, January 26 - 27 in Spresiano (Treviso), followed by the Mountain Bike Worlds June 15 to 22 in Commezzadura (Trento), then the Mountain Bike Marathon Worlds July 5 to 6 in Villabassa (Bolzano) and the Road Worlds September 23 to 28 in Varese. Varese previously hosted the Worlds in 1951.

"It was 1951 when the Road Cycling World Championships finally returned to Italian soil, nineteen years after Rome ’32. The city was just beginning to recover from the war. The journalists of the time provided massive coverage of the event whilst Varese introduced itself to the world. The Varese World Championships were a completely “home-grown” affair considering that the team manager of the Italian team was… one Alfredo Binda. Amongst those called up by Binda were two cycling superstars: Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. Unfortunately Coppi didn’t make it to the start of the race, due to a persistently high temperature which got the better of him in the days leading up to the Championships. It was yet another negative moment in the champion-of-champion’s run of bad luck during that season.
So the spotlight then focussed on the other Italians; Bartali, Fiorenzo Magni and Toni Bevilacqua. On the selective Brinzio circuit, which was packed with people, Bevilacqua already went on the attack in the initial phases together with a small group of riders, comprising Kübler from Switzerland and the young Minardi. The group reaction was slow to come and it was Fiorenzo Magni who launched the counterattack, together with the Swiss Torti, and who caught up with the fugitives in a sensational comeback. Bartali and Koblet, the ex-Tour winner, very nearly made it as well.
There were eight riders vying for the title. Bevilacqua and Minardi had a misunderstanding with Magni in the final dash to the line and Ferdy Kübler won himself a well-deserved world championship title. The remaining two podium places went to Italians: Magni was second and Bevilacqua third.
But on the 2nd of September 1951 it was not only the Fifties’ cyclists that made Varese famous, co-starring on that historic day was also the overwhelmingly large crowd that followed the race and made the Varese Worlds the biggest crowd-pulling Championships ever: one million and a half spectators."

The 2008 Varese calendar looks like this:

Monday, 22nd September '08 OPENING CEREMONY
Tuesday, 23rd September '08 UNDER 23 MEN TIME TRIAL
Wednesday, 24th September '08 ELITE WOMEN TIME TRIAL
Thursday, 25th September '08 ELITE MEN TIME TRIAL
Friday, 26th September '08 UNDER 23 MEN ROAD RACE
Saturday, 27th September '08 ELITE WOMEN ROAD RACE
Sunday, 28th September '08 ELITE MEN ROAD RACE

The Varese 2008 official website is http://www.varese2008.org/eng/index.asp?c=14 and the quoted material above is from their site. Merchandise can be found at: http://www.varese2008.org/eng/varese2008/merchandising.asp

Photos: Kubler wins in 1951

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