Costante Girardengo

Costante Girardengo ( born March 18, 1893 in Novi Ligure, † February 9, 1978 in Cassano Spinola ) was an Italian cyclist.

He twice won the Giro d' Italia, Milan - Sanremo six times and three times the Tour of Lombardy. He was the first cyclist the honorary title Campionissimo and can be described as the first real star in the history of cycling.


Career Start

As Girardengo turned pro in 1912, certainly neither he could have imagined the hot-blooded Italian tifosi that here the first large series winner of cycling had appeared on the stage, even if a ninth place listen attentively to stand at the very severe Tour of Lombardy in the debut year.

But in the following year 1913 his class was clear: He took the first of nine Italian championships on the road - even then the umkämpfteste certainly national titles in cycling. In addition, he had a stage win and sixth place overall in the Giro d' Italia as well as a victory in the very long day race Rome-Naples - Rome.

The following year, 1914, he repeated the victory in the Italian championship and won another stage in the Giro: the longest there ever extended day portion of Lucca to Rome over 430 kilometers.

But had taken just as his career journey, she was suddenly interrupted: One can only imagine how his trophy case would be like if had not taken care of the First World War for the failure of the current and most other races in the years 1915-1918.

As the 1917 racing slow to take again, Costante Girardengo took a little longer to find his top form. So he scored this year, only several good placings. Placement However, second place at Milan - Sanremo, hinted at what Girardengo should make famous: because a year later, in 1918, he won there in the so-called Classicissima, the first of six wins, a record of only about should be fifty years later by the greatest cyclists of all time, Eddy Merckx, surpassed.

The dream year

The year 1919 surpassed anything achieved so far: Costante Girardengo won for the third time, the Italian road championship and dominated the Giro d' Italia from the first to the last stage in the pink jersey with seven stage wins - by winning the then most important race in the world, he was finally become a champion. He rounded out the year in the fall by winning the second great Italian classics, the Tour of Lombardy, from.

But hopes ( and fears ), this dominance could continue in the coming years, not confirmed: While he continued his series of Italian championships unbroken until 1925 continued and gained further important classics, but with the following three Giri d' Italia, he gave each prematurely (on the second, fifth, and fourth stage ) and, after winning the Giro 1921, the first four stages in a row.

The second Giro victory

But all those who had already written off Girardengo as the winner for big tours, should 1923 better be taught: In the spring the third time at Milan-San Remo success he found in the Giro his form of 1919 again - overall victory and a total of eight stage wins were the result.

After an unremarkable by his standards 1924 was 1925, the last great year of Girardengo: his ninth national championship, the fourth victory at Milan-San Remo and a second place overall behind the upcoming Star Alfredo Binda at the Giro with six stage wins showed clearly that Girardengo with 32 years still to great achievements was capable of.

The changing of the guard

In 1926, the turning point came in his career: After the fifth victory at Milan-San Remo Girardengo was struck by the incredible and unique series of seven Italian championships in a row for the first time and had to settle for second place - defeated again by Alfredo Binda. The changing of the guard was finally completed, the era Girardengo was coming to an end.

This should be even more evident in 1927, when he was beaten ( on the Nürburgring- Nordschleife in Germany ) again Binda at the inaugural World Cup and his only win of the year brought just in tandem with Binda at the Milan Six-Day Race.

Girardengo should still operate nine years professional cycling, but with its over 35 years, he could no longer keep pace with the top young drivers. Only the sixth victory at Milan-San Remo in 1927 was once again shine through his former class.

In May 1936 ( and thus two months after Alfredo Binda! ) Finished Costante Girardengo, the first major Heroe of cycling, his sports careers.

After the End of career

After the end of his career Costante Girardengo founded in his hometown of Alessandria the bike brand Girardengo, which ( as was usual ) also has its own professional team entertained, as their sporting director Girardengo acted. For the team drove at the three-time world champion Rik Van Steenbergen, who could get 15 stage wins at the Giro, and thus was very interesting for an Italian team: In 1951, he took for Girardengo even second place in the overall standings.

Il Bandito e il Campione

A true and tragic story from this period revolves around Girardengos friendship with one of the most famous contemporary Italian bandits: Sante Pollastri, who was one of the biggest fans of Costante Girardengo. He managed always to escape the police. Only when a police officer recognized his admiration for the professional cyclist, succeeded Sante Pollastri arrest at a race near the finish line, where he waited for the arrival of his friend. So Sante was his enthusiasm for the triumphs of your friend 's undoing.

The Italian musician Francesco De Gregori the story was in his song Il Bandito e il Campione, Words and Music by Luigi Grechi ( stage name of Luigi De Gregori, the brother of Francesco ), from the same album (1992/ 1993) taken up the refrain is:

Palmarčs (excerpt)

  • 2 × Giro d' Italia (1919, 1923) 30 × stage winner