Giuseppe Saronni - The Wunderkind
Giuseppe Saronni, today sports executive, is a cycling icon. A professional from 1977 to 1990, he won two Giro d'Italia, one Milan-Sanremo, one Giro di Lombardia, one Freccia Vallone and a road world championship.
He always competed on Colnago bikes, except in 1979, the year he won his first Giro d'Italia racing on Bottecchie bikes.
In the world rankings, Saronni is in the top ten, an even more remarkable result, considering that he achieved almost all his victories in just a few years, a rare event in the history of cycling.
Giuseppe (Beppe) Saronni was born in Novara on 22 September 1957 into a family of cyclists. Both his brothers Alberto and Antonio were professionals, and Antonio was also Italian cyclo-cross champion several times.
1970 - Saronni began his career for the Sc Buscatese team, immediately obtaining many successes both on road and track.
As a junior, he won the European speed title. As an amateur he was selected for the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, taking part in the team pursuit race with Sandro Callari, Cesare Cipollini and Rino de Candido. However, they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by the Soviet Union.
In the minor categories, Saronni obtained 127 successes, and for this reason in 1977, when he was only 19 years old, the "wunderkind" could become a professional.
1977 - In his first year as a pro, Saronni rode for the Scic team led by Carlo Chiappano. In his first race, on February 23rd, he immediately obtained an excellent result, finishing second behind the world champion Freddy Maertens.
On March 29th he managed to win the Trofeo Pantalica, and in the same year, he won three more races and was summoned to the national team for the world championships in San Cristòbal, where he arrived ninth also contributing to the success of his compatriot Francesco Moser.
1978 - That year Saronni won many races, including the Tirreno-Adriatico, the Giro di Puglia and three stages at the Giro d'Italia, which he finished fifth. He also came second (before three consecutive placings of honour) at Milano-Sanremo, and fourth at the Nürburgring World Championships.
1979 - Saronni was only 21 years old when he took the pink jersey in Milan and won the general classification of the Giro d'Italia, going down in history as one of the youngest winners in the history of the Giro. He also won the first of three consecutive cyclamen jerseys (he won four in all).
Saronni also won the Zurich Championship, the Tour de Romandie, the Giro d'Italia (with three stages, two-time trials), Midi Libre, Tre Valli Varesine and the Baracchi Trophy, paired with Francesco Moser.
In every race, he always stood out for his talent and his ability to race on any type of terrain. He was able to hold his own uphill, was incredible in sprints, obtained excellent time trial results and faced every race with intelligence and determination.
1980 - Saronni passed to the Gis Gelati team, always directed by Chiappano. That year he won the Freccia Vallone, 7 stages at the Giro d'Italia, ranking 7th, and the national professional title. He ended the year with 30 victories.
1981 - He won 24 races and arrived third at the Giro d'Italia, with 3 stages won, only 50'' from the winner Giovanni Battaglin.
He also won the silver medal at the World Championships in Prague, passed in the sprint by Freddy Maertens and the bronze medal at the World Track Championships in Brno, Czech Republic.
1982- 1983 - The golden biennium
In 1982, Saronni moved to the Del Tongo-Colnago team, with whom in a few months he achieved some of the most important victories of his career. He won the Milan-Turin, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Giro di Lombardia, the Giro del Trentino and the Giro di Svizzera. Unfortunately, that summer his mentor Carlo Chiappano died in a car accident, but despite his grief, thanks to his unshakeable determination, Saronni also managed to triumph at the Goodwood World Championships in Great Britain, beating the American Greg LeMond in a sprint. And that final sprint was so incredible that it went down in cycling history as "the gunshot of Goodwood".
In 1983 Saronni won the Milano-Sanremo, becoming the fourth to succeed with the rainbow jersey after Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi, thanks to an attack that led him to prevail alone with 44" lead over the second, Guido Bontempi. Always with the rainbow jersey, he concluded the series of successes of the "golden biennium" in June 1983 with the final victory at the Giro d'Italia, the second of his career.
After the great two-year period 1982-1983, rich of victories, 1984 of Saronni, unlike that of his rival Moser, was almost anonymous, with few minor victories.
The last years on the bike
In 1985 he managed to win two stages at the Giro d'Italia. And also in 1986, he achieved some results: he came second at the Giro, after wearing the pink jersey for ten days (bringing the total number of pink jerseys to 49), and third at the world championships in Colorado Springs.
In the second half of the 1980s, however, when Saronni was just over thirty, his physique began to decline, preventing him from returning to levels of excellence.
In 1987 he won the Milano-Vignola and participated for the first and only time in Tour de France, retiring without success.
In 1988 he won the Giro di Puglia and the Tre Valli Varesine.
Saronni abandoned the races in 1990.
1992 - After he stopped racing, Saronni remained in the cycling world and began his career as team manager. From '92 to '94 with Lampre (who won two Giro d'Italia), from '97 to '98 Mapei and from 2013 to 2016 with Lampre-Merida.
Since 2017 Saronni has been involved in a new project of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) Abut Dhabi Team.
(1) Giro d'Italia '79
(2) The Gunshot of Goodwood '82
(3) Milano-Sanremo '83
(4) Saronni now as the UAE Team advisor
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