Sunday, December 4, 2011

Binda, Girardengo, the Torpedo Affair and the Five Hundred Lire

It's well known that Binda and Girardengo weren't the best of friends. Many racers were actually at odds with Binda actually, even if Gira dominated the scene earlier but stayed in the graces of those he beat. But what began the malumore of the two? Ventura explains in il Campione e il Bandito.

"The 1927 World Championships signaled the start of the hostility between me and Binda," Costante recounted. "Before the start, the four of us on the Italian team agreed that if one of us should win, we'd split the ten thousand lire prize into equal parts." Of course, Binda won, but talks of splitting the spoils didn't take place. In fact, attention was focused on another affair... both Binda (Legnano) and Gira (Wolsit, a sub brand of Legnano) had mounted Torpedo rear hubs with coaster brakes by Sachs to their bikes to the tune of a one hundred twenty thousand lire sponsorship! The pact was that any publicity would never appear in Italy, to not endanger their bike sponsorships. When one Italian magazine ran a full feature on the use of the Torpedo, it was Girardengo who would have to change 'houses'. After all, Binda was the World Champion and rising star. But in departing, Gira wouldn't forget the broken promise of Nurburgring.

The next year at the start of a rainy Milan-San Remo, Gira took the line even after telling his Maino bosses that in case of rain, he wouldn't race. With a delicate wrist from earlier accidents, Gira toed the line with a long pair of gloves that reached up his arms. "It was one of the hardest and most competitive San Remo's I had ever done."

Incredible racing indeed. Gira passed through his hometown of Novi in the lead, profiting from a Binda puncture. Binda rejoins. The rain turned the snow into mush and the roads into mud. Then an attack from Giacobbe and Papeschi, then Binda. Gira loses contact but rejoins by the Turchino. Incredibly strong on the climbs, Binda attacks but is brought back. A change of wheels after Capo Berta (Negrini states they rode from Milan in a 44 x 18 and at Capo Berta flipped the wheel to a 44 x 16) sees the pair stretched out along with Negrini until the entrance to San Remo. "Let's divide the winnings," promises Binda to Gira. The campionissimo agrees, lets Binda attack from too far out, and takes him at the line by two lengths.

Some days later, Gira gets his winnings. Binda comes for his part, two thousand lire. "'No way' I tell him," recounts Gira. "It's you who owes me five hundred. Twenty five hundred from the World Championships, less two thousand from San Remo."
They didn't speak again for two years.


  1. Thank you for all your work. I enjoy reading the back stories.

    I have the Galmozzi assembled, except for little things like adjusting derailleurs. Unfortunately we had our first snowfall a couple of days ago and I likely won't even test ride it until Spring.

    Be well. Have a pleasant Christmas season.
    te history very m

  2. You as well, Gunnar. It's funny but I've seen more Galmozzi's pop up in the past three months than I can recall, mainly those farmed out with a different name on the frame, but they seem to be flourishing in Milan.

    Also, keep an eye out on this site later today/tomorrow, as I have studio shots of my finished Galmozzi coming! They're stunning.

  3. nice idea, thanks for sharing...