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1939 Giro d'Italia

27th edition: April 28 - May 18

Results, stages with running GC, photos and history

1938 Giro | 1940 Giro | Giro d'Italia Database | 1939 Giro Quick Facts | 1939 Giro d'Italia Final GC | Stage results with running GC | Teams | The Story of the 1939 Giro d'Italia |

1939 Giro Quick Facts:

3,066 km raced at an average speed of 34.15 km/hr

89 starters and 54 classified finishers

Gino Bartali and Giovanni Valetti fought an epic duel in the 1939 Giro. Valetti took the lead in stage 11, but had to relinquish it to Bartali in stage 15, which went over the Passo Rolle.

Bartali had bad luck two days later in the next stage, even though he was first over the day's major climb. Valetti retook the lead and kept it all the way to Milan.

1939 Giro d'Italia Complete Final General Classification:

  1. maglia rosaGiovanni Valetti (Fréjus): 88hr 2min 0sec
  2. Gino Bartali (Legnano) @ 2min 59sec
  3. Mario Vicini (Lygie) @ 5min 7sec
  4. Severino Canavesi (Gloria) @ 7min 55sec
  5. Settimo Simonini (Il Littoriale) @ 16min 40sec
  6. Salvatore Crippa (Ganna) @ 17min 52sec
  7. Giordano Cottur (Lygie) @ 18min 40sec
  8. Cesare Del Cancia (Ganna) @ 24min 34sec
  9. Cino Cinelli (Fréjus) @ 26min 10sec
  10. Bernardo Rogora (Gloria) @ 27min 40sec
  11. Olimpio Bizzi (Fréjus) @ 28min 3sec
  12. Secondo Magni (Fréjus) @ 32min 39sec
  13. Glauco Servadei (Ganna) @ 39min 45sec
  14. Michele Benente (Olympia) @ 47min 17sec
  15. Diego Marabelli (Bianchi) @ 57min 17sec
  16. Augusto Introzzi (Gloria) @ 58min 30sec
  17. Aladino Mealli (S.C. Vigor) @ 1hr 8min 12sec
  18. Giuseppe Sabatini (Ganna) @ 1hr 11min 18sec
  19. Giovanni Cazzulani (Legnano) @ 1hr 22min 30sec
  20. Bruno Pasquini (La Voce di Mantova) @ 1hr 26min 11sec
  21. Walter Generati (Lygie) @ 1hr 28min 1sec
  22. Adolfo Leoni (Bianchi) @ 1hr 29min 35sec
  23. Vasco Bergamaschi (Bianchi) @ 1hr 30min 1sec
  24. Spirito Godio (S.C. Vigor) @ 1hr 32min 19sec
  25. Giacinto Gentile (Ganna) @ 1hr 46min 26sec
  26. Enrico Mollo (Olympia) @ 1hr 53min 13sec
  27. Oreste Sartori (Ganna) @ 1hr 53min 29sec
  28. Adriano Vignoli (Lygie) @ 2hr 8min 22sec
  29. Primo Zucotti (Dopolavoro di Novi) @ 2hr 19min 39sec
  30. Theo Van Oppen (Belgium) @ 2hr 28min 21sec
  31. Lino Marini (S.S. Genova 1913) @ 2hr 33min 0sec
  32. Ezio Cecchi (Gloria) @ 2hr 39min 14sec
  33. Guerrino Amadori (La Voce di Matova) @ 2hr 40min 25sec
  34. Renzo Silvestri (U.C. Modenese) @ 2hr 52min 25sec
  35. Gino Malavesi (La Voce di Mantova) @ 2hr 57min 25sec
  36. Amilcare Amisano (S.C. Vigor) @ 3hr 0min 21sec
  37. Carlo Moretti (Dopolavoro di Novi) @ 3hr 5min 46sec
  38. Carlo Romanatti (Bianchi) @ 3hr 11min 48sec
  39. Guerrino Tommasoni (Fréjus) @ 3hr 12min 14sec
  40. Fulvio Montini (Azzini) @ 3hr 29min 58sec
  41. Mario De Benedetti (Legnano) @ 3hr 33min 26sec
  42. Albert Beckaert (Belgium) @ 3hr 46min 44sec
  43. Ruggero Moro (S.C. Vigor) @ 3hr 55min 38sec
  44. Petrus Van Teemsche (Belgium) @ 4hr 2min 58sec
  45. Faustino Montesi (Olympia) @ 4hr 49min 40sec
  46. Elvezio Palla (Il Littoriale) @ 4hr 34min 36sec
  47. Pietro Rimoldi (Olympia) @ 4hr 38min 58sec
  48. Marcel Van Houtte (Belgium) @ 4hr 45min 31sec
  49. Pietro Chiappini (Il Littoriale) @ 5hr 10min 18sec
  50. Gérard Desmet (Belgium) @ 5hr 47min 29sec
  51. Francesco Doccini (Fréjus) @ 6hr 7min 31sec
  52. Marcel Claeys (Belgium) @ 6hr 53min 21sec
  53. Ivo Mancini (S.S. Genova 1913) @ 6hr 54min 1sec
  54. Serafino Santambrogio (U.C. Azzini) @ 6hr 59min 17sec

Climbers' competition:

  1. Green JerseyGino Bartali (Legnano): 22 points
  2. Giovanni Valetti (Fréjus) : 19
  3. Michele Benente (Olympia): 14
  4. Enrico Mollo (Olympia): 10
  5. Settimo Simonini (Il Littoriale): 10

Team Classificaton:

  1. Fréjus: 265hr 0min 13sec
  2. Ganna @ 27min 53sec
  3. Gloria @ 29min 52sec
  4. Lygie @ 57min 35sec
  5. Legnano @ 1hr 3min 55sec

1939 Giro stage results with running GC:

There were two days with split stages. Some accounts call them a & b, thus giving 1939 17 stages. Others (and this is the more common Italian practice) give each stage a unique number, making 1939 have 19 stages. I have followed that second practice with the alternative stage numbers also noted.

Stage 1: Friday, April 28, Milano - Torino, 180 km

  1. Vasco Bergamaschi: 4hr 46min 0sec
  2. Secondo Magni s.t.
  3. Adolfo Leoni @ 2min 0sec
  4. Glauco Servadei s.t.
  5. Serafino Santambrogio s.t.
  6. Silvio Gosi s.t.
  7. Maurice Clautier s.t.
  8. Gino Bisio s.t.
  9. 56 riders at same time and place

Stage 2: Saturday, April 29, Torino - Genova, 226 km

  1. Gino Bartali: 6hr 29min 1sec
  2. Cino Cinelli s.t.
  3. Mario Vicini s.t.
  4. Cesare Del Cancia @ 1min 6sec
  5. Glauco Servadei s.t.
  6. Adriano Vignoli @ 3min 10sec
  7. Aimone Landi s.t.
  8. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  9. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  10. Secondo Magni s.t.

GC after Stage 2:

  1. Gino Bartali: 11hr 17min 1sec
  2. Cino Cinelli s.t.
  3. Mario Vicini s.t.
  4. Cesare Del Cancia @ 1min 6sec
  5. Glauco Servadei s.t.
  6. Secondo Magni @ 1 min 10sec
  7. Vasco Bergamaschi @ 2min 47sec
  8. Aimone Landi @ 3min 10sec
  9. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  10. Settimo Simonini s.t.

Stage 3: Sunday, April 30, Genova - Pisa, 187 km

  1. Cino Cinelli: 5hr 22min 20sec
  2. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  3. Mario Vicini s.t.
  4. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  5. Severino Canavesi s.t.
  6. Secondo Magni s.t.
  7. Riccardo Manapace s.t.
  8. Bruno Pasquini s.t.
  9. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  10. Giovanni Valetti s.t.

15. Gino Bartali @ 7min 2sec

GC after Stage 3:

  1. Cino Cinelli: 16hr 39min 21sec
  2. Mario Vicini s.t.
  3. Secondo Magni @ 1min 10sec
  4. Savatore Crippa @ 3min 10sec
  5. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  6. Severino Canavesi @ 3min 24sec
  7. Adolfo Leoni @ 5min 33sec
  8. Giovanni Valetti s.t.
  9. Gino Bartali @ 7min 2sec
  10. Cesare Del Cancia @ 8min 8sec

Stage 4: Monday, May 1, Pisa - Grosseto, 151 km

  1. Carmine Saponetti: 4hr 9min 26sec
  2. Ruggero Moro s.t.
  3. Giodano Cottur s.t.
  4. Guerrino Lunardon s.t.
  5. Walter Generati s.t.
  6. Carlo Romanatti @ 40sec
  7. Guerrino Amadori @ 49sec plus 55 riders at same time and place

GC after Stage 4:

  1. Cino Cinelli: 20hr 49min 36sec
  2. Mario Vicini s.t.
  3. Secondo Magni @ 1min 10sec
  4. Salvatore Crippa 2 3min 10sec
  5. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  6. Severino Canavesi @ 3min 24sec
  7. Adolfo Leoni @ 5min 33sec
  8. Giovanni Valetti s.t.
  9. Gino Bartali @ 7min 2sec
  10. Cesare Del Cancia @ 8min 8sec

Stage 5: Tuesday, May 2, Grosseto - Roma, 222 km

  1. Olimpio Bizzi: 6hr 55min 40sec
  2. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  3. Glauco Servadei s.t.
  4. Gino Bartali s.t.
  5. Cino Cinelli s.t.
  6. Ruggero Balli s.t.
  7. Bernardo Rogora s.t.
  8. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  9. Spirito Godio s.t.
  10. Carmine Saponetti s.t.

GC after Stage 5:

  1. Cino Cinelli: 27hr 46min 16sec
  2. Secondo Magni @ 1min 10sec
  3. Mario Vicini @ 3min 0sec
  4. Severino Canavesi @ 3min 24sec
  5. Settimo Simonini @ 3min 40sec
  6. Salvatore Crippa @ 4min 10sec
  7. Adolfo Leoni @ 5min 33sec
  8. Giovanni Valetti s.t.
  9. Gino Bartali @ 7min 2sec
  10. Cesare Del Cancia @ 8min 8sec

Stage 6 (or Stage 6a): Thursday, May 4, Roma - Reiti, 85 km

  1. Carmine Saponetti: 2hr 12min 2sec
  2. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  3. Ezio Cecchi s.t.
  4. Pierino Favalli s.t.
  5. Aimone Landi s.t.
  6. Ruggero Moro s.t.
  7. Giacinto Gentile s.t.
  8. Carlo Moretti s.t.
  9. Renzo Silvestri s.t.
  10. Fulvio Montini s.t.

GC after Stage 6:

  1. Cino Cinelli: 30hr 1min 45sec
  2. Secondo Magni @ 1min 10sec
  3. Adolfo Leoni @ 2min 5sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 3min 0sec
  5. Severino Canavesi @ 3min 24sec
  6. Settimo Simonini @ 3min 40sec
  7. Salvatore Crippa @ 4min 10sec
  8. Giovanni Valetti @ 5min 33sec
  9. Gino Bartali @ 7min 2sec
  10. Cesare Del Cancia @ 8min 8sec

Stage 7 (or Stage 6b): Thursday, May 4, Rieti - Terminillo individual time trial (timed hill climb), 14 km (cronometro)

climbAscent: Terminillo

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 43min 22sec
  2. Gino Bartali @ 28sec
  3. Michele Benente @ 1min 38sec
  4. Olimpio Bizzi @ 1min 54sec
  5. Settimo Simonini @ 2min 1sec
  6. Cino Cinelli @ 2min 14sec
  7. Aladino Mealli @ 2min 15sec
  8. Secondo Magni @ 2min 33sec
  9. Mario Vicini @ 3min 14sec
  10. Ruggero Balli @ 3min 22sec

GC after Stage 7:

  1. Cino Cinelli: 30hr 46min 22sec
  2. Secondo Magni @ 1min 28sec
  3. Settimo Simonini @ 3min 27sec
  4. Giovanni Valetti @ 3min 29sec
  5. Mario Vicini @ 4min 0sec
  6. Adolfo Leoni @ 4min 55sec
  7. Severino Canavesi @ 5min 8sec
  8. Gino Bartali @ 5min 19sec
  9. Salvatore Crippa @ 5min 44sec
  10. Cesare Del Cancia @ 9min 42sec

Stage 8 (or Stage 7): Friday, May 5, Rieti - Pescara, 191 km

climbMajor ascent: Sella di Corno

  1. Adolfo Leoni: 5hr 12min 50sec
  2. Gino Bartali s.t.
  3. Glauco Servadei s.t.
  4. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  5. Olimpio Bizzi s.t.
  6. Severino Canavesi s.t.
  7. 20 riders at same time and place

GC after Stage 8:

  1. Cino Cinelli: 35hr 59min 12sec
  2. Secondo Magni @ 1min 28sec
  3. Giovanni Valetti @ 3min 29sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 4min 0sec
  5. Adolfo Leoni @ 4min 55sec
  6. Severino Canavesi @ 5min 8sec
  7. Gino Bartali @ 5min 19sec
  8. Salvatore Crippa @ 5min 44sec
  9. Cesare Del Cancia @ 9min 42sec
  10. Giordano Cottur @ 11min 49sec

Stage 9 (or Stage 8): Saturday, May 6, Pescara - Senigallia, 177 km

  1. Diego Marabelli: 4hr 36min 20sec
  2. Bernardo Rogora s.t.
  3. Walter Generati s.t.
  4. Marcel Claeys @ 1min 10sec
  5. Lino Marini s.t.
  6. Augusto Introzzi s.t.
  7. Spirito Godio @ 1min 20sec
  8. Ruggero Moro @ 1min 30sec
  9. Pierino Chiappini s.t.
  10. Gérard Desmet s.t.

GC after Stage 9:

  1. Cino Cinelli: 40hr 37min 2sec
  2. Secondo Magni @ 1min 28sec
  3. Giovanni Valetti @ 3min 29sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 4min 0sec
  5. Adolfo Leoni @ 4min 55sec
  6. Severino Canavesi @ 5min 8sec
  7. Gino Bartali @ 5min 19sec
  8. Salvatore Crippa @ 5min 44sec
  9. Cesare Del Cancia @ 9min 42sec
  10. Giordano Cottur @ 11min 49sec

Stage 10 (or Stage 9a): Sunday, May 7, Senigallia - Forlì, 117 km

  1. Glauco Servadei: 3hr 0min 5sec
  2. Gino Bartali s.t.
  3. Ruggero Moro s.t.
  4. Bernardo Rogora s.t.
  5. Pietro Rimoldi s.t.
  6. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  7. Marcel Claeys s.t.
  8. 52 riders at same time and place

GC after Stage 10:

  1. Secondo Magni: 42hr 38min 35sec
  2. Cino Cinelli @ 1min 12sec
  3. Giovanni Valetti @ 2min 1sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 2min 32sec
  5. Adolfo Leoni @ 3min 27sec
  6. Severino Canavesi @ 3min 40sec
  7. Gino Bartali @ 3min 51sec
  8. Salvatore Crippa @ 4min 16sec
  9. Cesare Del Cancia @ 8min 14sec
  10. Giordano Cottur @ 10min 21sec

Stage 11 (or Stage 9b): Sunday, May 7, Forlì - Firenze, 107 km

climbMajor ascent: Muraglione

  1. Gino Bartali: 3hr 5min 30sec
  2. Cino Cinelli s.t.
  3. Olimpio Bizzi s.t.
  4. Ruggero Moro s.t.
  5. Glauco Servadei s.t.
  6. Spirito Godio s.t.
  7. Diego Marabelli s.t.
  8. Cesare Del Cancia s.t.
  9. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  10. Adolfo Leoni s.t.

GC after Stage 11:

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 46hr 46min 6sec
  2. Cino Cinelli @ 11sec
  3. Mario Vicini @ 31sec
  4. Adolfo Leoni @ 1min 26sec
  5. Severino Canavesi @ 1min 39sec
  6. Gino Bartali @ 1min 50sec
  7. Salvatore Crippa @ 2min 15sec
  8. Secondo Magni @ 4min 19sec
  9. Cesare Del Cancia @ 6min 13sec
  10. Giordano Cottur @ 8min 20sec

Stage 12 (or Stage 10): Tuesday, May 9, Firenze - Bologna, 118 km

climbMajor ascent: Futa

  1. Olimpio Bizzi: 3hr 20min 25sec
  2. Gino Bartali s.t.
  3. Severino Canavesi s.t.
  4. Giovanni Valetti s.t.
  5. Aladino Mealli s.t.
  6. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  7. Secondo Magni @ 2min 40sec
  8. Carmine Saponetti s.t.
  9. Augusto Introzzi s.t.
  10. Walter Generati s.t.

GC after Stage 12:

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 50hr 6min 31sec
  2. Severino Canavesi @ 1min 39sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 1min 50sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 3min 11sec
  5. Cino Cinelli @ 3min 51sec
  6. Salvatore Crippa @ 5min 55sec
  7. Secondo Magni @ 6min 59sec
  8. Settimo Simonini @ 8min 21sec
  9. Adolfo Leoni @ 9min 41sec
  10. Olimpio Bizzi @ 12min 26sec

Stage 13 (or Stage 11): Wednesday, May 10, Bologna - Venezia, 228 km

  1. Pierino Chiappini: 6hr 41min 50sec
  2. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  3. Pietro Rimoldi s.t.
  4. Vasco Bergamaschi s.t.
  5. Bernardo Rogora s.t.
  6. Carmine Saponetti @ 1min 5sec
  7. Marcel Claeys s.t.
  8. Francesco Albani s.t.
  9. Cesare Del Cancia s.t.
  10. Glauco Servadei @ 1min 16sec

GC after Stage 13:

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 56hr 49min 33sec
  2. Severino Canavesi @ 1in 39sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 1min 50sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 3min 11sec
  5. Salvatore Crippa @ 5min 55sec
  6. Secondo Magni @ 6min 59sec
  7. Cino Cinelli @ 7min 29sec
  8. Settimo Simonini @ 8min 21sec
  9. Adolfo Leoni @ 9min 41sec
  10. Cesare Del Cancia @ 13min 26sec

Stage 14 (or Stage 12): Thursday, May 11, Venezia - Trieste, 179 km

  1. Giordano Cottur: 4hr 50min 35sec
  2. Marcel Claeys @ 22sec
  3. Michele Benente s.t.
  4. Sprito Godio @ 4min 26sec
  5. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  6. Adolfo Leoni s.t.
  7. 34 riders at same time and place

GC after Stage 14:

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 61hr 44min 34sec
  2. Severino Canavesi @ 1min 39sec
  3. Gino Bartali @ 1min 50sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 3min 11sec
  5. Salvatore Crippa @ 5min 55sec
  6. Secondo Magni @ 6min 59sec
  7. Cino Cinelli @ 7min 29sec
  8. Settimo Simonini @ 8min 21sec
  9. Adolfo Leoni @ 9min 41sec
  10. Giordano Cottur @ 11min 32sec

Stage 15 (or Stage 13): Saturday, May 13, Trieste - Gorizia 39.8 km individual time trial (cronometro)

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 56min 12sec
  2. Olimpio Bizzi @ 52sec
  3. Walter Generati @ 57sec
  4. Giordano Cottur @ 1min 5sec
  5. Secondo Magni @ 1min 13sec
  6. Mario Vicini @ 1min 46sec
  7. Glauco Servadei @ 2min 0sec
  8. Carmine Saponetti @ 2min 8sec
  9. Gino Bartali @ 2min 9sec
  10. Augusto Introzzi @ 2min 25sec

GC after Stage 15:

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 62hr 40min 46sec
  2. Gino Bartali @ 3min 59sec
  3. Severino Canavesi @ 4min 29sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 4min 57sec
  5. Secondo Magni @ 8min 13sec
  6. Salvatore Crippa @ 10min 4sec
  7. Cino Cinelli @ 10min 13sec
  8. Settimo Simonini @ 11min 24sec
  9. Giordano Cottur @ 12min 37sec
  10. Adolfo Leoni @ 12min 49sec

Stage 16 (or Stage 14): Sunday, May 14, Gorizia - Cortina d'Ampezzo, 195 km

climbMajor ascent: Passo della Mauria

  1. Secondo Magni: 6hr 26min 50sec
  2. Gino Bartali s.t.
  3. Mario Vicini s.t.
  4. Severino Canavesi s.t.
  5. Giovanni Valetti s.t.
  6. Michele Benente s.t.
  7. Salvatore Crippa @ 1min 0sec
  8. Spirito Godio s.t.
  9. Walter Generati s.t.
  10. Bernardo Rogora s.t.

GC after Stage 16:

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 69hr 7min 36sec
  2. Gino Bartali @ 3min 59sec
  3. Severino Canavesi @ 4min 29sec
  4. Mario Vicini @ 4min 57sec
  5. Secondo Magni @ 8min 13sec
  6. Salvatore Crippa @ 11min 4sec
  7. Cino Cinelli @ 12min 48sec
  8. Giordano cottur @ 15min 12sec
  9. Settimo Simonini @ 17min 40sec
  10. Cesare Del Cancia @ 18min 36sec

Stage 17 (or Stage 15): Monday, May 15, Cortina d'Ampezzo - Trento, 258 km

climbMajor ascent: Passo Rolle

  1. Gino Bartali: 8hr 16min2sec
  2. Mario Vicini s.t.
  3. Cesare Del Cancia s.t.
  4. Giordano Cottur s.t.
  5. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  6. Enrico Mollo @ 48sec
  7. Severino Canavesi @ 3min 16sec
  8. Glauco Servadei @ 7min 48sec
  9. Bernardo Rogora s.t.
  10. Bruno Pasquini s.t.

17. Giovanni Valetti s.t.

GC after Stage 17:

  1. Gino Bartali: 77hr 27min 37sec
  2. Mario Vicini @ 58sec
  3. Severino Canavesi @ 3min 46sec
  4. Giovanni Valetti @ 3min 49sec
  5. Giordano Cottur @ 11min 13sec
  6. Settimo Simonini @ 13min 41sec
  7. Cesare Del Cancia @ 14min 37sec
  8. Salvatore Crippa @ 14min 53sec
  9. Secondo Magni @ 22min 2sec
  10. Cino Cinelli @ 23min 17sec

Stage 18 (or Stage 16): Wednesday, May 17, Trento - Sondrio, 155 km

climbMajor ascent: Tonale

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 5hr 27min 44sec
  2. Olimpio Bizzi @ 5min 32sec
  3. Diego Marabelli s.t.
  4. Cino Cinelli s.t.
  5. Glauco Servadei @ 6min 48sec
  6. Augusto Introzzi s.t.
  7. Severino Canavesi s.t.
  8. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  9. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  10. Mario Vicini s.t.
  11. Gino Bartali s.t.
  12. Bernardo Rogora s.t.

GC after Stage 18:

  1. Giovanni Valetti: 82hr 59min 10sec
  2. Gino Bartali @ 2min 59sec
  3. Mario Vicini @ 3min 57sec
  4. Severino Canavesi @ 6min 45sec
  5. Settimo Simonini @ 16min 40sec
  6. Giordano Cottur @ 17min 30sec
  7. Salvatore Crippa @ 17min 52sec
  8. Cesare Del Cancia @ 23min 24sec
  9. Cino Cinelli @ 25min 10sec
  10. Bernardo Rogora @ 26min 30sec

19th and Final Stage (or Stage 17): Sondrio - Milano, 171 km

climbMajor ascent: Madonna del Ghisallo

  1. Gino Bartali: 5hr 2min 50sec
  2. Salvatore Crippa s.t.
  3. Fulvio Montini s.t.
  4. Carlo Romanatti s.t.
  5. Michele Benente s.t.
  6. Settimo Simonini s.t.
  7. Giuseppe Sabatini s.t.
  8. Giovanni Valetti s.t.
  9. Augusto Introzzi s.t.
  10. Diego Marabelli s.t.

1939 Giro d'Italia Complete Final General Classification




U.S. Azzini
Dopolavoro Di Novi
S.S. Genova 1913
Il Littoriale
La Voce Di Mantova
U.C. Modenese
S.C. Vigor

The Story of the 1939 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.

 What the tifosi wanted was a real head-to-head match-up between Italy’s two finest stage racers on their home soil. Bartali was ready and fit, having won Milan–San Remo from a six-man break that included Bini and Vicini. Valetti’s impact on the races of the time is much lighter than Bartali’s but we do know from the ferocity of the racing in the 1939 Giro that Valetti came to Milan on April 28 in truly sparkling form.

There was perhaps one other rider entered who was close to the level of Bartali and Valetti that year, Mario Vicini. But the rest, Bergamaschi, Canavesi, Del Cancia, Di Paco and Cino Cinelli (the same Cinelli who went on to bicycle industry fame), to name a few, were merely excellent professional riders. Valetti and Bartali were extraordinary, the likes of whom turn otherwise superb riders into also-rans and mentions in Giro histories.

The nineteen-stage, 3,006-kilometer schedule took the riders no further south than Rome. It was really a Giro d’(Northern) Italia.

1935 winner Vasco Bergamaschi took the first stage win in Turin but the second stage into Genoa had the race’s first real ordering of the General Classification. When Bartali, Cinelli and Vicini finished in Genoa in that order, they were a minute ahead of the next rider, Del Cancia, and a full five and a half minutes ahead of the main peloton containing Valetti.

Gino Bartali was in pink.

The next day Bartali missed the break—are we seeing a pattern yet?—and finished seven minutes behind the ten-man winning group that just happened to contain Valetti. The only Legnano (Bartali’s team) rider in the escape was Secondo Magni. The break contained riders from Frejus, Bianchi, Lygie, Ganna, Gloria, La Voce di Mantova and Il Littoriale. All the major teams except Olympia and the Belgians had at least one of their men in the break. It was a perfect assembly of riders, several of whom were team leaders, to wreak maximum destruction on the hopes of the 25-year-old Bartali.

Cinelli was now the leader with Vicini in second place at the same time. Valetti was eighth, 5 minutes 33 seconds behind and Bartali was ninth, at 7 minutes 2 seconds.

Stage six, a short 85-kilometer half stage before the afternoon’s time trial, had a surprising finish. Carmine Saponetti, an independent rider placed in the “Voce di Mantova” group, won the stage from a three-man break, aided by Bianchi team leader Adolfo Leoni who had let himself come in second.

Why did the Bianchi captain gift the stage win to Saponetti? Saponetti was broke. He started the Giro with 40 lire in his pocket and hoped to earn a little cash as the race progressed. His mother was so concerned that she came to his hotel room in Rome where the fifth stage ended with 100 lire for the impoverished, unsponsored Saponetti. The generous Leoni let the poor farmer’s son pocket some desperately needed money by letting him triumph at the finish in Rieti.

Except for Vicini’s loss of three minutes in stage five, the standings hadn’t changed before the stage seven timed hill-climb to Terminillo. Valetti won it, besting Bartali by 28 seconds and Cinelli by more than 2 minutes.

That gave the following General Classification:
1. Cino Cinelli
2. Secondo Magni @ 1 minute 28 seconds
3. Settimo Simonini @ 3 minutes 27 seconds
4. Giovanni Valetti @ 3 minutes 29 seconds
5. Mario Vicini @ 4 minutes
8. Gino Bartali @ 5 minutes 19 seconds

The race headed north, up the Adriatic coast with a detour deep into Bartali’s Tuscany. Cinelli lost enough time because of a collision with a motorcycle in stage ten to lose the lead. Stage eleven took the riders on a trip over the Apennines with an ascent of the Passo del Muraglione. Bartali was first across the line in Florence with Cinelli second and Valetti still further back, but with the same time. Valetti took over the maglia rosa as the race got a bit tighter.

The General Classification now stood thus:
1. Giovanni Valetti
2. Cino Cinelli @ 11 seconds
3. Mario Vicini @ 31 seconds
4. Adolfo Leoni @ 1 minute 26 seconds
5. Severino Canavesi @ 1 minute 39 seconds
6. Gino Bartali @ 1 minute 50 seconds

The year’s second time trial (counting the Terminillo hill climb) was held in Trieste. Valetti proved he deserved the leadership by beating all in the 42-kilometer test. Vicini lost 1 minute 46 seconds and Bartali gave up over two minutes. Valetti now held a lead over Bartali that was a single second short of four minutes.

Stage sixteen signaled the Giro’s arrival in the Dolomites with a scaling of the Passo della Mauria before the finish down the valley in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Bartali couldn’t drop the Piedmontese rider and once again they finished with the same time.

Stage seventeen was 258 kilometers going from Cortina d’Ampezzo to Trent with the Passo Rolle the principle obstacle. Bartali knew he was running out of race. He was first over the Rolle and, after joining up with Vicini and several other riders, had finally managed to drop the seemingly tireless Valetti. Valetti was put into crisis by Bartali’s attack, relinquishing 7 minutes 48 seconds. Gino Bartali was the new leader with Vicini second at 58 seconds. The race seemed hopelessly lost to Valetti, fourth at 3 minutes 49 seconds with only two stages to go.

The Italian cycling world was insane with excitement over the duel between these two riders with most experts considering the race a done deal at this point. The two-time Giro and 1938 Tour winner was riding in a commanding fashion with a lead that should allow him to arrive in Milan in pink.

But this was a battle between two great champions and neither one was going to give up. The penultimate day was the last one in the high mountains. It was a 166-kilometer race from Trent to Sondrio with the Tonale and Aprica passes providing Valetti a last chance to salvage his Giro. Reports of exactly what happened that day differ widely, but here’s my understanding of the stage.
Valetti attacked early, but Bartali was able to bridge up to him, bringing along Valetti’s teammate Olimpio Bizzi. Valetti then flatted and Bizzi gave Valetti his wheel, but Bartali hadn’t waited around, he was gone.

Bartali was able to get over the Tonale first, a good five minutes ahead of Valetti but it did him no good. Bizzi had rejoined Valetti and the two of them left Bartali behind when he flatted. Valetti made good his escape at Aprica, winning the stage in terrible, freezing weather (the Tonale pass had 20 centimeters of snow). To paraphrase American racer Floyd Landis, Bartali chose a bad day to have a bad day. While Valetti was working with a will to perform a miracle, a desperate Bartali flatted yet again and then crashed. Worse for him, his team car was delayed and slow to get him a new wheel. Valetti came into the finish in Sondrio over five minutes ahead of the first chaser (teammate Bizzi) and almost seven minutes ahead of Bartali and Vicini.

But there’s more to this day than just some hard racing and rotten luck. The Frejus (Valetti’s team) car was ahead of Bartali’s Legnano team service car on the road. To prevent the Legnano car from moving up to help Bartali, the Frejus driver pretended to lose control in the snow, ending up stopped with his car sideways in the middle of the road. The Legnano car was blocked while Bartali was trying to change a sew-up tire in the freezing weather. Valetti then flatted, and when the mechanic arrived, he purposely wrecked Valetti’s wheel so that he could show the judges that the wheel needed a replacement rather than a time consuming tire change.

Valetti was back in pink with Bartali almost three minutes behind in second place.

Bartali escaped on the Ghisallo climb in the final run-in to Milan but Valetti and the rest of the field weren’t letting him get away. The pack pulled him back, but the relentless Bartali still won the final stage. Small consolation for second place overall.

Gino Bartali

Gino Bartali is first over the Ghisallo

Giovanni Valetti on Ghisallo

And Valetti is second over the Ghisallo, hot on Bartali's tail.

Historian Leo Turrini has written that there might have been something a bit hinky about the 1939 Giro. Valetti was a member of the Young Fascists but Bartali had declined to join them. He was instead, a member of Catholic Action, a lay organization that had an uneasy, competitive relationship with the government. Was there something strange about that day in the snow that cost Bartali so dearly or was it just bad luck meeting an on-form Valetti? Turrini writes that Mussolini’s domestic espionage agency OVRA left a document that leads one to believe there might have been some sort of government involvement in that snowy stage eighteen. Seventy years later, everyone involved is dead. We’ll probably never know.

Now both men had two Giro victories, but Valetti never did anything great in cycling again. One writer called him a bright meteor that blazed briefly across the cycling sky. It’s an admirable legacy, two Giri and a Tour of Switzerland. Valetti tried to come back after the war, but his time had passed.

Final 1939 Giro d’Italia General Classification:
1. Giovanni Valetti (Frejus) 86 hours 2 minutes
2. Gino Bartali (Legnano) @ 2 minutes 59 seconds
3. Mario Vicini (Lygie) @ 5 minutes 7 seconds
4. Severino Canavesi (Gloria) @ 7 minutes 55 seconds
5. Settimo Simonini (Il Littoriale) @ 16 minutes 40 seconds

Climbers’ Competition:
1. Gino Bartali (Legnano)
2. Giovanni Valetti (Frejus)
3. Michele Benente (Olympia)

On June 4, a couple of weeks after the Giro concluded, 20-year-old Fausto Coppi, in the words of Philippe Brunel, “arrived on the scene and scrambled Bartali’s orderly life” by breaking away from the pack in the Tour of Piedmont. He was caught after his chain began slipping and finished third behind the day’s winner, Bartali. Coppi’s masseur, Giovanni Cavanna, told Eberardo Pavesi about his young athlete’s extraordinary ability. That evening Legnano team boss Pavesi signed Coppi to be a gregario for Bartali.

This would be the last Giro before Europe and the rest of the world descended into its greatest calamity ever. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, Italy had taken Ethiopia in 1935, but it was Germany’s and Russia’s dismemberment of Poland in September of 1939 that officially marked the start of the Second World War.

After the rape of Poland, Europe settled into an uneasy truce, called the “Phony War”. Hitler and his generals spent that winter planning an invasion of the Low Countries that became the blueprint for a wholesale invasion of France, while France and Britain tried to figure out Germany’s next move. They had to wait until spring to find out. The German army moved into Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland on May 10, 1940, and from there into France. On June 10, with France already reeling from the German assault, Mussolini sent the Italian army into southern France. France felt that with its own army destroyed and British having been evacuated at Dunkirk, it could not continue the fight. On June 22, 1940, France signed an armistice with Germany and Italy that was effectively a surrender.

Italy was completely unprepared to prosecute a modern war, but Mussolini was sure the conflict would have a quick end and was confident that when the negotiations were concluded, Italy would be able expand its African empire at the expense of the allies. “I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought,” the optimistic dictator said. Fewer predictions have ever been more wrong.