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1931 Giro d'Italia

19th edition: May 10 - May 31

Results, stages with running GC, photos and history

1930 Giro | 1932 Giro | Giro d'Italia Database | 1931 Giro Quick Facts | 1931 Giro d'Italia Final GC | Stage results with running GC | Teams | The Story of the 1931 Giro d'Italia |

1931 Giro Quick Facts:

3012 km raced at an average speed of 29.33 km/hr

109 starters and 65 classified finishers

12 stages with an average stage length of 251 km.

The Giro awarded the maglia rosa (Pink Jersey) for the first time, the jersey being the same color as the paper used by La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Giro's owner.

Alfredo Binda abandoned while leading after crashing in stage six.

Francesco Camusso performed a brilliant escape in stage 11, catching everyone by surprise and thereby winning the 1931 Giro d'Italia.

1931 Giro d'Italia Final General Classification:

  1. maglia rosaFrancesco Camusso (Gloria): 102hr 40min 46sec
  2. Luigi Giacobbe (Maino) @ 2min 47sec
  3. Luigi Marchisio (Legnano) @ 6min 15sec
  4. Aristide Cavallini (independent-Dei) @ 10min 15sec
  5. Ettore Balmamion (independent-Frejus) @ 12min 15sec
  6. Augusto Zanzi (Ganna) @ 12min 16sec
  7. Antonio Pesenti (independent) @ 13min 50sec
  8. Ambrogio Enrico Morelli (Bianchi) @ 16min 59sec
  9. Felice Gremo (Legnano) @ 27min 5sec
  10. Eugenio Gestri (Legnano) @ 32min 25sec
  11. Michele Orecchia @ 33min 55sec
  12. Antonio Giuseppe Negrini @ 40min 31sec
  13. Alfredo Bovet @ 42min 25sec
  14. Severino Canavesi (Gloria) @ 46min 13sec
  15. Renato Scorticati (independent) @ 51min 10sec
  16. Casimiro Bianchin @ 1hr 2min 35sec
  17. Aldo Canazza (Legnano) @ 1hr 3min 35sec
  18. Mario Cipriani @ 1hr 24min 2sec
  19. Amerigo Cacioni @ 1hr 34min 12sec
  20. Oreste Cignoli @ 1hr 39min 46sec
  21. Amilcare Galloni @ 1hr 41min 42sec
  22. Aleardo Simoni @ 1hr 44min 8sec
  23. Albino Binda (Legnano) @ 1hr 47min 8sec
  24. Alfonso Crippa @ 1hr 48min 21sec
  25. Mario Pomposi @ 1hr 49min 17sec
  26. Carlo Rovida @ 1hr 51min 32sec
  27. Raffaele Perna @ 2hr 0min 4sec
  28. Allegro Grandi @ 2hr 3min 10sec
  29. Antonin Magne @ 2hr 7min 33sec
  30. Piero Fossati @ 2hr 9min 23sec
  31. Ettore Meini (independent) @ 2hr 19min 14sec
  32. Angelo Rinaldi @ 2hr 24min 44sec
  33. Raffaele Di Paco @ 2hr 34min 51sec
  34. Luigi Barral @ 2hr 37min 6sec
  35. Domenico Puleo @ 2hr 37min 35sec
  36. Giovanni Vitali @ 2hr 40min 15sec
  37. Giovanni La Rocca @ 2hr 41min 44sec
  38. Mario Lavazza @ 2hr 42min 48sec
  39. Mario Semprini @ 2hr 48min 27sec
  40. Armando Gori @ 2hr 48min 48sec
  41. Pietro Mori @ 2hr 49min 35sec
  42. Emilio Codazza @ 2hr 52min 17sec
  43. Luigi D'Alessandria @ 3hr 49min 23sec
  44. Angelo Giannini @ 4hr 14min 38sec
  45. Umberto Berni @ 4hr 51min 43sec
  46. Eraldo Fornari @ 5hr 11min 52sec
  47. Giovanni Pizzarelli @ 5hr 17min 33sec
  48. Gaetano Riva @ 5hr 53min 52sec
  49. Francesco De Fano @ 5hr 57min 55sec
  50. Adolfo Martelli @ 6hr 26min 10sec
  51. Nicola Ranieri @ 6hr 39min 20sec
  52. Giulio Fatticcioni @ 6hr 46min 58sec
  53. Francesco Riccò @ 7hr 32min 12sec
  54. Antonio Vani @ 7hr 51min 27sec
  55. Giuseppe Martorana @ 8hr 12min 32sec
  56. F. D'Adam @ 8hr 50min 47sec
  57. Ermete Fuccella @ 10hr 3min 19sec
  58. Arnaldo Bergami @ 10hr 46min 59sec
  59. Riccardo Gagliardi @ 10hr 47min 59sec
  60. Attilio Laus @ 14hr 5min 19sec
  61. Tullo Vincenzi @ 14hr 10min 19sec
  62. Giuseppe Paltrinieri @ 14hr 11min 26sec
  63. Bruno Fontana @ 14hr 23min 39sec
  64. Luigi Ugaglia @ 14hr 47min 19sec
  65. Alberto Mongiano @ 17hr 45min 34sec

1931 Giro stage results with running GC:

Stage 1: May 10, Milano - Mantova, 206 km

  1. Learco Guerra: 6hr 7min 19sec
  2. Alfredo Binda s.t.
  3. Michele Mara s.t.
  4. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  5. Fabio Battesini s.t.
  6. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  7. Domenico Piemontesi @ 7sec
  8. Jean Aerts s.t.
  9. Aldo Canazza s.t.
  10. Ettore Balmamion s.t.

Stage 2: Monday, May 11, Mantova - Ravenna, 216 km

  1. Learco Guerra: 7hr 3min 10sec
  2. Fabio Battesini s.t.
  3. Michele Mara s.t.
  4. Alfredo Binda s.t.
  5. Domenico Piemontesi s.t.
  6. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  7. Jean Aerts s.t.
  8. Alfredo Bovet s.t.
  9. Ambrogio Morelli s.t.
  10. Alfonso Crippa s.t.

GC after Stage 2:

  1. Learco Guerra: 13hr 10min 29sec
  2. Alfredo Binda s.t.
  3. Fabio Battesini s.t.
  4. Michele Mara s.t.
  5. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  6. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  7. Domenico Piemontesi @ 7sec
  8. Jean Aerts s.t.
  9. Ettore Balmamion s.t.
  10. Alfredo Carniselli

Stage 3: Tuesday, May 12, Ravenna - Macerata, 288 km

climbsAscents: Urbino (400m), Passo di Scheggia (632m), Colle di Fossato (740m)

  1. Alfredo Binda: 10hr 16min 26sec
  2. Luigi Giacobbe s.t.
  3. Michele Mara s.t.
  4. Louis Delannoy s.t.
  5. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  6. Louis Peglion s.t.
  7. Aleardo Simoni s.t.
  8. Eugenio Gestri s.t.
  9. Luigi Barral s.t.
  10. Giovanni Firpo s.t.

GC after Stage 3:

  1. Alfredo Binda: 23hr 35min 55sec
  2. Michele Mara @ 1min 0sec
  3. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  4. Eugenio Gestri @ 1min 7sec
  5. Luigi Giacobbe s.t.
  6. Louis Peglion s.t.
  7. Aleardo Simoni s.t.
  8. Luigi Barral @ 1min 31sec
  9. Giovanni Firpo s.t.
  10. Augusto Zanzi @ 1min 43sec

Stage 4: Friday, May 15, Macerata - Pescara, 234 km

climbAscent: Croce di Casale (731m)

  1. Alfredo Binda: 8hr 11mi 3sec
  2. Learco Guerra s.t.
  3. Michele Mara s.t.
  4. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  5. Domenico Piemontesi s.t.
  6. Aldo Canazza s.t.
  7. Giovanni Firpo s.t.
  8. Jean Aerts s.t.
  9. Luigi Barral s.t.
  10. Perosa s.t.

GC after Stage 4:

  1. Alfredo Binda: 31hr 47min 8sec
  2. Michele Mara @ 1min
  3. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  4. Eugenio Gestri @ 1min 7sec
  5. Luigi Giacobbe s.t.
  6. Louis Peglion s.t.
  7. Luigi Barral @ 1min 21sec
  8. Giovanni Firpo s.t.
  9. Augusto Zanzi s.t.
  10. Alfredo Bovet @ 1min 33sec

Stage 5: Sunday, May 17, Pescara - Napoli, 282.5 km

climbsAscents: Ponte Cottaro (1,012m), Roccaraso (1,236m)

  1. Michele Mara: 10hr 48min 18sec
  2. Learco Guerra s.t.
  3. Alfredo Binda s.t.
  4. Domenico Piemontesi s.t.
  5. Eugenio Gestri s.t.
  6. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  7. Ettore Balmamion s.t.
  8. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  9. Felice Gremo s.t.
  10. Carlo Rovida s.t.

GC after Stage 5:

  1. Alfredo Binda: 42hr 35min 26sec
  2. Michele Mara @ 1min
  3. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  4. Eugenio Gestri @ 1min 7sec
  5. Luigi Giacobbe @ 1min 15sec
  6. Giovanni Firpo @ 1min 21sec
  7. Luigi Barral @ 1min 29sec
  8. Augusto Zanzi @ 1min 41sec
  9. Louis Peglion @ 1min 56sec
  10. Alfredo Bovet @ 2min 1sec

Stage 6: Tuesday, May 19, Napoli - Roma, 265 km

climbAscent: Palestrina

  1. Ettore Maini: 7hr 50min 37sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti s.t.
  3. Renato Scorticati s.t.
  4. Ettore Balmamion s.t.
  5. Amerigo Cacioni s.t.
  6. Aristide Cavallini s.t.
  7. Casimiro Bianchin s.t.
  8. Oreste Cignoli @ 10sec
  9. Learco Guerra @ 25sec
  10. Michele Mara s.t.

GC after Stage 6:

  1. Michele Mara: 50hr 27min 28sec
  2. Luigi Marchisio @ 12sec
  3. Alfredo Binda @ 15sec
  4. Eugenio Gestri @ 19min
  5. Luigi Giacobbe @ 33sec
  6. Aristide Cavallini @ 43sec
  7. Louis Peglion @ 1min 6sec
  8. Luigi Barral @ 1min 47sec
  9. Augusto Zanzi @ 1min 52sec
  10. Francesco Camusso @ 2min 8sec

Stage 7: Thursday, May 21, Roma - Perugia, 247 km

climbAscent: Passo della Somma

  1. Learco Guerra: 7hr 55min 26sec
  2. Francesco Camusso @ 36sec
  3. Severino Canavesi @ 1min 1sec
  4. Luigi Giacobbe s.t.
  5. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  6. Augusto Zanzi s.t.
  7. Felice Gremo @ 1min 10sec
  8. Ettore Balmamion @ 1min 18sec
  9. Michele Mara @ 1min 45sec
  10. Ambrogio Morelli s.t.

GC after Stage 7:

  1. Luigi Marchisio: 58min 24min 7sec
  2. Luigi Giacobbe @ 21sec
  3. Michele Mara @ 32sec
  4. Eugenio Gestri @ 51sec
  5. Francesco Camusso @ 1min 31sec
  6. Augusto Zanzi @ 1min 40sec
  7. Learco Guerra @ 2min 21sec
  8. Ettore Balmamion @ 2min 29sec
  9. Aristide Cavallini @ 2min 57sec
  10. Ambrogio Morelli @ 3min 21sec

Stage 8: Saturday, May 23, Perugia - Montecatini, 246 km

  1. Learco Guerra: 7hr 48min 13sec
  2. Michele Mara @ 35sec
  3. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  4. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  5. Carlo Rovida s.t.
  6. Domenico Piemontesi s.t.
  7. Ambrogio Morelli s.t.
  8. Eugenio Gestri s.t.
  9. Antonin Magne @ 42sec
  10. Antonio Pesenti s.t.

GC after Stage 8:

  1. Learco Guerra: 66hr 12min 41sec
  2. Luigi Marchisio @ 14sec
  3. Luigi Giacobbe @ 42sec
  4. Michele Mara @ 46sec
  5. Eugenio Gestri @ 1min 1sec
  6. Francesco Camusso @ 1min 52sec
  7. Augusto Zanzi @ 2min 16sec
  8. Ettore Balmamion @ 3min 0sec
  9. Aristide Cavallini @ 3min 33sec
  10. Ambrogio Morelli @ 3min 35sec

Stage 9: Monday, May 25, Montecatini - Genova, 248 km

climbsAscents: La Foce (613m), Bracco (613m)

  1. Michele Mara: 8hr 58min 50sec
  2. Luigi Giacobbe s.t.
  3. Domenico Piemontesi s.t.
  4. Carlo Rovida s.t.
  5. Ettore Balmamion s.t.
  6. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  7. Francesco Camusso s.t.
  8. Renato Scorticati @ 12sec
  9. Antonio Pesenti s.t.
  10. Umberto Berni s.t.

GC after Stage 9:

  1. Luigi Marchisio: 75hr 11min 45sec
  2. Luigi Giacobbe @ 28sec
  3. Michele Mara @ 32sec
  4. Eugenio Gestri @ 1min 3sec
  5. Francesco Camusso @ 1min 38sec
  6. Augusto Zanzi @ 2min 14sec
  7. Ettore Balmamion @ 2min 46sec
  8. Aristide Cavallini @ 3min 31sec
  9. Antonio Negrini @ 4min 38sec
  10. Ambrogio Morelli @ 5min 31sec

Stage 10: Wednesday, May 27, Genova - Cuneo, 263 km

climbsAscents: La Bocchetta (772m), Colle del Giovo (472m), Colle di Cadibona (734m)

  1. Luigi Giacobbe: 9hr 46min 3sec
  2. Francesco Camusso @ 10sec
  3. Aristide Cavallini s.t.
  4. Luigi Marchisio @ 2min 56sec
  5. Michele Mara s.t.
  6. Antonio Pesenti s.t.
  7. Augusto Zanzi s.t.
  8. Felice Gremo s.t.
  9. Ambrogio Morelli @ 4min 54sec
  10. Ettore Balmamion s.t.

GC after Stage 10:

  1. Luigi Giacobbe: 84hr 57min 16sec
  2. Francesco Camusso @ 2min 20sec
  3. Luigi Marchiso @ 3min 28sec
  4. Michele Mara @ 4min 0sec
  5. Aristide Cavallini @ 4min 13sec
  6. Augusto Zanzi @ 6min 42sec
  7. Ettore Balmamion @ 8min 12sec
  8. Antonio Pesenti @ 10min 3sec
  9. Ambrogio Morelli @ 10min 57sec
  10. Felice Gremo @ 24min 18sec

Stage 11: Friday, May 29, Cuneo - Torino, 252 km

climbAscent: Sestriere (2,033m)

  1. Francesco Camusso: 8hr 29min 44sec
  2. Luigi Giacobbe @ 3min 10sec
  3. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  4. Antonio Pesenti s.t.
  5. Felice Gremo s.t.
  6. Aldo Canazza @ 4min 56sec
  7. Ettore Balmamion s.t.
  8. Severino Canavesi @ 5min 21sec
  9. Eugenio Gestri s.t.
  10. Michele Orecchia @ 5min 24sec

GC after Stage 11:

  1. Francesco Camusso: 93hr 27min 23sec
  2. Luigi Giacobbe @ 2min 47sec
  3. Luigi Marchisio @ 6min 15sec
  4. Michele Mara @ 10min 2sec
  5. Aristide Cavallini @ 10min 15sec
  6. Ettore Balmamion @ 12min 45sec
  7. Augusto Zanzi @ 12min 46sec
  8. Antonio Pesenti @ 13min 50sec
  9. Ambrogio Morelli @ 16min 59sec
  10. Felice Gremo @ 27min 5sec

12th and Final Stage: Sunday, May 31, Torino - Milano, 263 km

climbsAscents: La Serra (595m), Brinzio (508m)

  1. Ambrogio Morelli: 9hr 13min 23sec
  2. Ettore Maini s.t.
  3. Aldo Canazza s.t.
  4. Alfredo Bovet s.t.
  5. Ettore Balmamion s.t.
  6. Luigi Marchisio s.t.
  7. Luigi Barral s.t.
  8. 33 riders all given same time and place

1931 Giro d'Italia Complete Final General Classification



The Story of the 1931 Giro d'Italia

This excerpt is from "The Story of the Giro d'Italia", Volume 1. If you enjoy it we hope you will consider purchasing the book, either print or electronic. The Amazon link here will make either purchase easy.

Since 1919 the leader of the Tour de France has worn a distinctive yellow jersey. There is reason to believe the practice predates the First World War, but for our purposes, 1919 is close enough. Journalists had asked Henri Desgrange for some way to help them pick out the rider currently at the head of the General Classification. A jersey of the color of L’Auto’s yellow newsprint was Desgrange’s solution.

In 1931 the Giro started presenting a jersey of pink fabric mimicking the pink newsprint of La Gazzetta dello Sport to the Classification leader, and starting in 1933 there was one in white for the best of the independent riders. Since the Fascist regime wanted to associate itself with cycling, the chest of both jerseys sported a patch embroidered with the Fascist emblem of a bundle of rods bound to an axe. While the leader of the Giro still wears a pink jersey, called the maglia rosa, the emblem (and Mussolini) have long been abandoned. It was reported that Mussolini disliked the color because he thought a pink jersey effeminate.

Binda was invited to ride and the World Champion responded with a gracious letter of which I quote a few freely translated lines:
“The invitation from La Gazzetta dello Sport to participate in the Tour of Italy in 1931 has brought me great satisfaction…I will start for the sixth time…I have a serious burden because as everyone knows, I rode the Giro with success five times…I recognize the value of my opponents but my faith will never fail because it is supported by my boss [Emilio] Bozzi, of Legnano, and my countless sports friends…Victorious, I will give a most brilliant demonstration of my ability.
Please accept, Mr. Commendatore, my most sincere regards.
Alfredo Binda.”

Besides Binda, the 1931 Giro was contested by all the top Italians: Guerra, Giacobbe, Di Paco, Marchisio, Gremo, Belloni, Piemontesi and Mara.
Another interesting entrant was Francesco Camusso, who turned pro in September of 1929. In 1930 he won two races and gave the Giro a shot but was forced to abandon on the final stage.

Finally, the Giro was now more than an important Italian race. Quality foreigners were at the start line including one of the most accomplished riders of all time, Antonin Magne, who would win the Tour twice and eventually become World Champion. Belgian great Jean Aerts, also a future professional World Champion, was at the start line as well.

The first-ever Spanish entrants arrived to contest the 1931 Giro: Mariano Cañardo, probably the best Spanish racer of the era, along with Basque rider Ricardo Montero.

In my opinion, this was the finest peloton assembled to date to race the Giro d’Italia.

Among the Italians, Binda was looking as he promised, brilliant. That spring he beat Guerra and Piemontesi in Milan–San Remo’s big sprint finish. Magne had no high placings that spring but Aerts had been third in the Tour of Flanders.
The 1931 Giro was divided into twelve stages that totaled 3,012 kilometers and went no further south than Naples. The starting peloton was only 109 riders strong, but the race was better off without the hundreds of ill-prepared independents who were incapable of handling the rigors of the three-week race.

The Giro started May 10 with an eastward race to Mantua. Seventy-two riders roared into town with six of them dangling just seven seconds off the front. Being from Mantua (for the detail-minded reader: San Nicolo Po, to be exact) Guerra had special motivation to win that day, and the local boy beat them all. Finishing just behind him was Binda in the rainbow jersey of the World Champion followed by Mara and Marchisio. Both Magne and Aerts were in the big chase group. That made Learco Guerra the first ever wearer of the maglia rosa.

Guerra wins stage 1 in Mantua

Learco Guerra wins stage one in Mantua.

The next day they headed south to Ravenna and again Guerra showed that his second place in the 1930 Tour was no fluke by winning two stages in a row. He was the leader, but because time bonuses weren’t in play, Guerra was tied on time with Binda, Fabio Battesini, Mara, Di Paco and Marchisio.

Stage three had a minute’s time bonification available to the winner. When Guerra was hit with “intestinal difficulties” while climbing the hills of Le Marche to Macerata, Binda attacked. Guerra lost over five minutes and Binda scored the stage, taking the time bonus and the Pink Jersey. He now had a minute’s lead over Mara and Marchisio while Guerra was 29th. In a field of this quality, taking back five minutes would be a difficult task, even for a human locomotive.

Guerra had three days to recover before the Giro resumed and when Binda won in Pescara, it was Guerra who finished right with him. The sprint was close, close enough that the crowd thought Guerra the winner. Cougnet, acting as the chief judge, saw it otherwise and awarded the stage to Binda. Needless to say, this infuriated Guerra’s passionate tifosi.

Binda wins in PEscara

Binda narrowly beats Guerra in Pescara.

A photo was taken of the finish but it wasn’t ready until later in the day, allowing the crowd’s wrath to fulminate under the hot Italian sun. The picture validated Cougnet’s judgment; the stage was rightfully Binda’s. Guerra’s fans weren’t mollified because passion, especially sports passion, rarely listens to reason. The offending photo was posted in a shop window in central Pescara. Furious, Guerra’s partisans smashed the window and tore up the photograph. The stage was still Binda’s. People are generally allowed their own opinions, rarely are they allowed their own facts.

The fifth stage represented the race’s southernmost point when it finished in Naples. This time Mara beat Binda and Guerra. This race was extremely tight:
1. Alfredo Binda
2. Michele Mara @ 1 minute
3. Luigi Marchisio @ same time
4. Eugenio Gestri @ 1 minute 7 seconds
5. Luigi Giacobbe @ 1 minute 15 seconds
So far neither Magne nor Aerts had made any impression in the fight for stage wins or the General Classification.

The sprint into Rome on the Villa Glori horse-race track ended with several riders colliding, with Binda among the fallen. He remounted and finished 96 seconds after stage winner Ettore Meini, but his back was seriously injured. The other contenders were quicker about getting back on their bikes; Guerra, Mara and Piemontesi lost only a half-minute and Mara was the maglia rosa.

There were two days between the sixth and seventh stage, but Binda’s back still ached. As the race headed through Umbria to Perugia the peloton was hit with a cloudburst in Terni. That was it. Enough was enough. The trumpeter abandoned, his back killing him. Guerra won the stage with Camusso following in 36 seconds later. So far Camusso had been careful to stay close to the front and his vigilance had kept him from losing any significant time.

The standings after the seventh stage had this shape:
1. Luigi Marchisio
2. Luigi Giacobbe @ 21 seconds
3. Michele Mara @ 32 seconds
4. Eugenio Gestri @ 51 seconds
5. Francesco Camusso @ 1 minute 31 seconds
6. Augusto Zanzi @ 1 minute 40 seconds
7. Learco Guerra @ 2 minutes 21 seconds

Stage eight went into Tuscany, and near the finish in Montecatini, Guerra took off on a descent and gapped the field by 35 seconds. The Human Locomotive held off the pack, keeping his daringly won 35 seconds all the way to the line. His stage eight victory gave him a 14-second lead over Marchisio. Guerra had clawed his way back into the Pink Jersey. With Binda out of the picture he felt that he could protect his slim lead all the way to Milan.

But fortune is a fickle mistress. Guerra crashed in the early kilometers of the ninth stage. Some accounts put the fall in Fosdinovo, near the coast, and others in the small town of La Foce in southern Tuscany. In any case, the cause of the fall was truly banal, and dare I say it, very Italian. While waiting for his beloved Guerra to arrive at the top of a climb, a drunken and adoring fan leaped upon the ascending Guerra to plant a kiss, bringing both of them to the ground. A stone in the road (most roads were unpaved in Italy, remember) cut Guerra’s back badly. Taken to a hospital in La Spezia (making the Fosdinovo location more likely), he was forced to abandon with his Pink Jersey in tatters, actually and metaphorically. The lead returned to Marchisio who, so far, had managed to keep his narrow gap over Giacobbe.

Stage ten went over the snow- and ice-covered Colle di Tenda before finishing in Cuneo. It was here in the frozen mountains of Piedmont that Giacobbe struck. He took three minutes out of the 1930 winner and seized the lead putting Camusso in second place, 2 minutes 20 seconds behind.

The eleventh stage went over the Sestriere pass, ascending from the east side. Before the mountain’s slope began to bite, Camusso pretended he had a leaking tire. At some point he decided that the time was right to “fix” his flat tire. Instead of repairing a non-existent flat he just flipped his rear wheel around for a lower gear. Camusso was adept at turning the cranks with a high cadence and was able to spin his way back up to the peloton. When the pack reached Pregelato, Camusso had his mountain-climbing low gear already in place and, wham! Camusso took off like a startled deer and vanished up the road. Meanwhile, Marchisio and Giacobbe and the others had to stop to flip their own wheels around.

Giacobbe was caught completely unawares by the clever Camusso who had clearly planned his set-piece well in advance. Camusso was a splendid climber and by the time he reached the top he had a two-minute lead. His descent was magnificent. He raced down the mountain as if his hair were on fire. By the time he reached Susa he had pushed the gap to four minutes. He was a man of Piedmont (as were Giacobbe and Marchisio) and was familiar with the roads he was racing on.

He made it all the way to Turin without getting caught, his solo break having lasted 100 kilometers. Giacobbe formed a chase group with Marchisio, Antonio Pesenti and Gremo but even with this combined power they had to give up 3 minutes 10 seconds. It was a superb performance of both physical power and intelligent riding and has to be regarded as one of the great rides in cycling history. Now Camusso was in pink with only the stage into Milan remaining, which had no effect upon the standings. An entirely unexpected man won the 1931 Giro d’Italia.

Francesco Camusso wins the 1931 Giro

Francesco Camusso wins the 1931 Giro d'Italia

Final 1931 Giro d’Italia General Classification:
1. Francesco Camusso (Gloria-Hutchinson) 102 hours 40 minutes 46 seconds
2. Luigi Giacobbe (Maino) @ 2 minutes 47 seconds
3. Luigi Marchisio (Legnano) @ 6 minutes 15 seconds
4. Aristide Cavallini (independent) @ 10 minutes 15 seconds
5. Ettore Balmamion (independent) @ 12 minutes 15 seconds
The top three placers were Piedmontese.

And how did the foreigners do? Of the 65 finishers, only two weren’t Italian. Magne came in 29th, over two hours behind Camusso. His best stage placing was ninth in the eighth stage. That July Magne won the Tour de France. Aerts abandoned the 1931 Giro after doing no better than the seventh place he got in stage two. Perhaps the Giro d’Italia was still an Italian race.

The 1931 Giro is considered a classic by cycle historians for its superb start list and consistently exciting racing that remained at a high level even (and perhaps especially) after the departure of Binda and Guerra along with its unpredictable turns of fortune.

Guerra went on to win the World Championship in Copenhagen that August. The Italian government was thrilled with Guerra’s accomplishments, calling him (it seems against his wishes) a “Fascist Superman”.