The Unsung Hardmen

The Unsung Hardmen

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I was searching the internet this morning for photos of Gianni Bugno (because he’s Awesome, and sometimes I just need more pictures of Awesome).  It was during that effort that I came across this magnificent shot of an unknown hardman rolling across the muddy gravel summit of what I’m guessing to be the Gavia in 1962.

The shot is a masterpiece and immediately captured my attention the way only a classic cycling photo can.  The towering snowbanks, the mud and gravel, the lone rider off the front, the obviously terrible weather; these high roads and conditions marked the mountain stages of an era gone by.  Cycling aesthete and Velominatus Krx-10 quickly identified the rider as Vittorio Adorni.

Adorni was entirely unknown to me until today.  A career domestique, he nonetheless won stages of the Giro d’Italia as well as the 1968 world championships which were held on Italian soil.  According to Wikipedia, Eddy Merckx, who was his trade-team captain at the time, blocked for him when he went up the road, allowing him to gain a 10 minute advantage over the chasers and become World Champion.  It turns out that Adorni was a mentor to Merckx and taught him how to ride a Grand Tour.

How many more such unsung hardmen are there?  Too many, I’m sure, but at least Adorni now holds a permanent place in the Velominati Archives as a certified Hardman.

// Nostalgia // The Hardmen // The Rules // Tradition

  1. That is a great photo. I have to ride a smoother road than this with snow plowed high and plumb before I die, it’s classic cycling.

    KRX-10 is the man. I thought I had esoteric and possibly useless knowledge of 1970s euro-pros but I see I am not in the same league here. I’m very impressed.

  2. @john
    This guy was a high-order bad-ass. I can’t find any pictures of him not riding in foul weather. I guess sunshine was just to easy for him. Check out these shots from a quick Google search:

  3. The first pic above (1 of 6) is stunning. The muted greens and greys behind the Maglia Rosa sticking out like that is really cool. The wiki article says he won the Giro overall in 65, I wonder if that’s when the pic was taken.

    Put your bike in the car and head up to Baker and you could replicate the main photo.

  4. @Marko
    Isn’t that stunning, dude? You’ve watched Stars and Water Carriers, right? It seems like it was all like that back then. Champions leading from the front, unlike today’s “protected” riders riding hard for the last 15 km of a mountain stage.

  5. @frank

    They had to ride like that dude, no radios.

  6. @Marko
    We digress, but I thought the Tour Radio Mutiny was one of the least Awesome events of a very un-Awesome Tour.

  7. @Marko
    Speaking of men who race from the front, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gianni Bugno loose a sprint he started, and he’d always pound that massive gear and just stay in front with this look on his face that said, “What, why isn’t anyone coming around? Are we going fast already?”

  8. Awesome pics. I totally dig photos from that era – super cool.

  9. @Dan O
    Me too, man. I live for that stuff.

  10. Wilf Peeters always used to rank amongst my favourite riders, until he shoved Museeuw under a bus. But irrespective of that he was definitely an unsung hardman. Always there or thereabouts in the classics, supporting Museeuw and still able to pick up several podiums at Paris-Roubaix. Seemed to be able to ride on the front of the bunch all day – although that might have been for other reasons – a boss of the peloton and a very sharp tactical brain.

  11. @Jarvis
    Awesome to have someone recognize Wilf as a hardman. I once saw him puke into a water bottle to hide his fatigue from his breakaway companions. Amazing.

  12. WoW

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