Giro honors a lesser-known cycling legend, Baldini

Ercole Baldini is one of the most accomplished riders of his generation, but you may have never heard of him.

Photo: ANSA

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The late 1950s were rich with cycling legends, men like Anquetil, Bahamontes, and Gaul. But what about Ercole Baldini? Baldini could be one of the most accomplished cyclists that you’ve never heard of — the Italian won gold at the world championships and Olympics, set an hour record, and claimed a Giro d’Italia title. On Wednesday, he was inducted into the Giro’s Hall of Fame alongside stars like Eddy Merckx and Francesco Moser.

“Receiving a career acknowledgement as prestigious as the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame makes me incredibly happy,” said Baldini. “I would like to thank La Gazzetta dello Sport and the Giro d’Italia management for still thinking about me such a long time from my victories at the Giro d’Italia, at the worlds, and at the Olympic games.”

Baldini was winning major races even before turning professional. In September 1956, Baldini stripped Jacques Anquetil of the hour record by riding 46.393 kilometers. A few months later, in December, Baldini won gold at the Olympic games road race in Melbourne, Australia. Baldini excelled in time trials, claiming gold in the individual pursuit at the 1956 track world championships in Copenhagen.

The following year, Baldini reached the pro ranks and won six races as a neo-pro, including the Italian national road race, Giro di Romagna, Giro del Lazio, and Trofeo Baracchi. He took his first Giro d’Italia stage win, an individual TT in stage 12, at the 1957 Giro, which helped him stand on the final step of the podium, in third.

The “Forli Train,” as he was nicknamed, won the Giro the following year, picking up a stage win on the eighth day of racing, a 59-kilometer time trial. Seven days later, he won his second stage of the race, and took the leader’s pink jersey for good. Three months later, August 31, he won the world championship road race in Reims. That same year, he also won the Italian National Championships and the Trofeo Matteotti.

The Giro hall of fame, which inducted its first member in 2012, includes Eddy Merckx (2012), Felice Gimondi (2013), Stephen Roche (2014), and Francesco Moser (2015).

Baldini, 83, made the nearly 300-kilometer trip from Forli to Milan with his brothers, Renato, Bruno, and Renzo, nephews Edoardo and Alice, and his sons Riziero and Mino, as well as many friends and former riders. Among them were Vittorio Adorni, Marino Amadori, Luciano Armani, Emilio Casalini, and Ercole Gualazzini. The mayor of Forli and fans also traveled to Milan.

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