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.