History of a cycling able to suggest and drag; to mark sporting eras. Litmus map of a winning and ambitious Italy. Once upon a time Francesco Moser, that country divided into rivalry with Beppe Saronni e that (first) Mexico City time record, the same legendary city where Pietro Mennea made the 200m record five years earlier.
On January 19, 1984 at the Olympic velodrome a Trentino passer-by rides a bike that looks like a motorcycle. But there is no trick: on that psychedelic trabiccolo with lenticular wheels, the real engine is only the legs of a much loved cyclist from half of Italy; his swaying pelvis, his back bent almost to merge with a helmet – also innovative – that bothers and makes you smile. the story of a company that fascinates Italy to drink in the mid-80s that stands out in sports on the long wave of well-being – moral and economic – which made it raise its head after forty years of reconstruction. The enterprise of Francesco Moser (born in 1951) from Pal di Giovo.
Not a kid, but a 33-year-old with three professional cyclist brothers (out of eleven overall). Uphill has always suffered; sprints are not his forte; a very strong pistard and has the pace of a refined champion; fly downhill and tame stopwatches. He won a lot in his 11-year professional career. And even if in January 1984 he has not yet conquered a great stage race (he will win the Giro d’Italia five months later), World Champion in 1977 in Venezuela and conquered 3 Paris-Roubaix, 2 Tours of Lombardy, 1 Arrow Walloon, 1 Ghent-Wevelgem, 1 Milan-Sanremo, several stages in the Giro. Now he still wants to leave an important mark: that hour record that belongs to none other than Eddie Merckx.
The threshold 49.431 km in 60 minutes of frantic pedaling that exhausted Eddie too: No more record of the hour …. But Moser, with a first-rate technical-medical staff behind him, is smarter: flies to Mexico a month before the attempt. The oxygen-poor air of the plateau, if on the one hand reduces friction by favoring aerodynamics, on the other it wears out the lungs. If you are not used to it. And then there is the technology. First of all the bike with the aerodynamic frame, modeled in the wind tunnel; then those lenticular wheels: no spokes, all connected to the hub by a solid structure in the shape of a lens. was invented by Antonio Dal Monte: he studied it to exploit its penetration into the air and its low resistance to the atmosphere. There is a helmet with a tapered rear offshoot; there is a super-tight micro-fiber bodysuit. And then computers, heart rate monitors. Francesco looks like the cyclist of a possible future.
Wake up early in the morning of that January 19th. The wet track for a humid and penetrating haze; the wind blowing against it takes a while to blow it away. But there is no problem: that would be just the first attempt. That’s right: a preliminary test to stretch the super-legs, in view of the actual attempt scheduled for January 23, when the whole Moserian tribe will disembark from Italy. But immediately after the departure things are going well: Moser begins to accumulate a double advantage, on the schedule set for the record and on the passes of Merckx in 1972. Halfway through the race he feels good: it seems a crime not to try immediately. And indeed … The Trentino pushes as hard as he can, tapers on the handlebars, bends and gets up; sways. Lap after lap. He has the record in his legs. its time, its day, its year. The minutes pass and the company becomes certainty. At 60 minutes, certain of having made it, he crosses the finish line and enters the history of cycling: 50808 meters in an hour. 50, 808 km in 3600 seconds. World record.
Francesco Moser in the subsequent attempt in Milan in 1986 (LaPresse)
In Italy any Thursday: people don’t know, they don’t expect, they almost don’t believe it. And in fact that record does not last long. Four days later Moser still in the saddle. This time the velodrome of the Centro Deportivo crowded: Mexicans, Italians, journalists, technicians. Who cares if the record is already broken? Certainly not to Francesco. The Trentino rider gets on the saddle and starts (perhaps too much) like a rocket: at the first km his average delirium (over 54 km / h), the advantage accumulates, the tiredness as well. At 60 minutes here is the new record: 51 km and 151 meters. A myth. A year to be framed: at the end of spring Moser will win the Milan-Sanremo and the Giro d’Italia, after a time trial in Verona that crashed the French Laurent Fignon. His hour record will only be broken 9 years later since Graeme Obree, unknown Scottish amateur. And only after in 2000 the International Cycling Union (UCI) decided to cancel the records obtained thanks to special bicycles (practically all the records of Moser), deriving them from the best human performance on the hour and returning to consider as a valid record that of Merckx of 1972. But without being able to cancel the emotion for that enterprise of January 1984
January 19, 2021 (change January 19, 2021 | 07:17)
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