Re: [CR]49Giro 1 June 1949

(Example: Events:Cirque du Cyclisme:2004)

Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 07:53:23 -0400
From: "jamie swan" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]49Giro 1 June 1949
To: swampmtn <>
References: <000501c3295e$de96df40$d734fea9@mokry>

Hey Aldo,

I'm curious if you are posting these as you are translating them, or did you translate them all in advance?

Thanks, Jamie Swan - Northport, N.Y.

swampmtn wrote:
> (transcribed by Aldo Ross)
> Bassano del Grappa, the night of Wednesday, 1 June, 1949.
> Dino Buzzati writes.
> Portentous weather.
> This evening, in the hotels and small inns - while big, ominous clouds
> continue to pile up to the north, toward the wall of the Dolomites - no one
> is talking about today's stage which brought us one hundred and fifty
> kilometers from Udine to the base of Monte Grappe. They talk only about
> tomorrow.
> Thursday, June 2, 1949. . . the holy day of Sant'Erasmo Vescovo, will be the
> day of decision, the time of the bogeyman, the most difficult test, where
> the advice of one's companions, the easy answers on crib sheets, the
> formulas copied on fingernails and shirt-cuffs, will not be worth a damn.
> These mountains will not permit themselves to be misled - they stand solemn
> and impenetrable, wrapped in an immense blanket of thick clouds, hiding
> destiny within.
> Big words, these, normally reserved for describing wars, revolutions,
> natural disasters, and other major tragedies, not a minor detail of life
> such as the Giro d'Italia. But this evening, here in Bassano, the race is
> anything but a minor detail; it's by far the most important thing in life in
> the small world of the Giro, in which we resemble wandering gypsies. And
> the thought of tomorrow's climb into the Dolomites keeps our senses on
> tenterhooks, almost like the anxious wait for the Allied landings in France
> during the last war.
> Today's stage, while short and mostly flat, was nothing to be sneezed at,
> for it was hard-fought (but not by the great Champions, of course, who
> continued to avoid conflict). Even though it was pouring down rain - no
> more pleasant views of fields in the sunshine, no more bare-armed girls, no
> more fights for the buckets of cold water set out on the roadsides, but
> instead an endless array of shiny umbrellas, slick asphalt, and the
> ridiculous transformation of the cyclists, whose little waterproof rain
> jackets billow in the wind, transforming the riders into monstrous
> hunchbacks - it was a continuous series of attacks.
> It began as soon as we left the gates of Udine: Guido De Santi (gs.Atala)
> took off alone, his intentions not exactly clear, followed by Renzo Soldani
> and Luciano Frosini (both from gs.Legnano) and Franco Franchi (gs.Frejus),
> but the three of them couldn't keep up with De Santi. Frosini went again,
> this time with Mario Ricci (gs.Viscontea), Luigi Casola (gs.Benotto) and
> three others; and this time they made it across. They caught De Santi at
> Pordenone, but not before he had pocketed the cash prime.
> Entering Treviso everyone was back together, but in the town there was
> another escape - Giuseppe Doni (gs.Frejus), leading under the intermediate
> sprint banner, took advantage of the opportunity to step hard on the gas.
> After him went Giovanni Corrieri (gs.Bartali), Fritz Schaer (gs.Ganna), and
> Pasquale Fornara (gs.Legnano). Schaer missed a curve, ending up in the
> crowd, so then three were left, and in the gusting wind and rain the trio
> pedaled for all they were worth, between two solid lines of raincoats,
> oilskin capes, and umbrellas. . . a line which remained almost unbroken even
> in the open countryside.
> After Montebelluna there was no more asphalt, and the wheels started to
> throw up streams of mud.
> Corrieri accelerated.
> He looked back.
> He saw that the other two were weakening, so there he was, dashing off
> toward the finish line in Bassano, without the annoyance of escorts.
> "Bartali, Bartali!" people shouted on seeing his team's yellow jersey.
> "Bartali!" they continued to yell, even when the fugitive was upon them. . .
> Who could have guessed that it was actually Corrieri?
> The mud covered his face like a mask, bringing to mind one of those African
> witch doctors whose face is all tattooed in white.
> True recognition came only from behind, when people could read his number
> through the mud.
> And that is how Corrieri won today's stage, with more than a minute's lead
> (no change, however, in the overall classification).
> It was a splendid stage, despite the rain and mud, and yet it has already
> been filed away in the archives, and it appears that the preceding stages
> have been relegated to the archives as well, because those wise men, the old
> foxes, the oracles, the professors, the astrologists, the chosen few who
> understand cycling lore, grant no importance to what has happened so far.
> In their opinions, the road covered thus far, all 2296 kilometers of
> hardship, tribulation, sweat and suffering, were little more than a mere
> prologue, and the two great tenors have yet to test their scales (they haven
> 't even cleared their throats. . . not even a little trill, as a test).
> Up until now, they have only been fencing with very slender foils, but
> tomorrow at last the warriors will take their broadswords with both hands
> and bring them down full-force.
> What does it matter if, in the first onslaught, the Knight received a few
> superficial nicks in his armor? Tomorrow, in a single forceful thrust, he
> will slash his enemy to pieces.
> What does it matter if Coppi and Bartali currently have a handicap of ten
> minutes?
> It is true that Leoni is in surprisingly good form and dominates the
> sprints, but how will he perform in the mountains?
> "Yes, in the Dolomites, on the climbs, tomorrow," the experts snicker, "a
> ten-minute gap will mean nothing."
> "Up there" they say, "only the powerful voices of the Titans will reign
> supreme in the silence of the sheer valleys."
> Glory is a fragile thing, even in cycling. The merest trifle is enough to
> turn the praiseful trumpets in another direction. We saw a little of that
> last evening in Udine when, contrary to expectations, the cheers for the two
> champions were less sustained, and the crowds in front of their hotels were
> rather sparse. Instead, the biggest cheers and the thickest crowd were
> concentrated beneath Leoni's window.
> But the myth of Bartali and Coppi remains intact - it is touching (speaking
> as a heretic) what blind faith these sports enthusiasts have in those two.
> But what will happen tomorrow, on the Rolle, Pordoi, and Gardena passes?
> That is all they talk about in secret discussions taking place within the
> teams, at the dinner table, at the bar, from one bed to another in the dark
> before sleep takes over.
> Rita Hayworth's wedding?
> Obstructionism in the United Nations?
> The situation in Italy's African colonies?
> The congress of Christian Democrats?
> The day laborers' strike?
> You never hear anyone speak of them. . . rather, it is "What will Bartali
> and Coppi do on the Pallidi peaks?"
> In response to this question, a sly smile lights up the face of Pavesi, that
> wise old Silenus (faithful confidant of the wine god Dionysus), who tutored
> both riders and knows more about cycling than Einstein knows about physics
> and relativity. He excludes only one possibility from the list: that the
> two will break away together, taking turns at pulling. "No", he says, "that
> would require that both Coppi and Bartali change into different men
> overnight."
> But excluding this, anything is possible: that Coppi attacks, beating his
> rival; that the contrary happens; that the two, obsessed with watching one
> another, miss the attack.
> It is also possible, and we hope it will happen, that some young unknown
> will shake off the great aces, in the manner of a Great Champion, that
> roaring cheers will greet the "revelation of this year's Giro d'Italia" and
> that, beginning tomorrow, a new name will echo throughout the world.
> But the professors shake their heads. "It is absurd" they say. "Bartali or
> Coppi - there can be no one else in the Dolomites."
> Tonight those peaks, so arrogant and threatening, loom over the sleeping
> racers: visions of terrible precipices, roads that make the blood turn cold,
> without guardrails, carved out of solid rock, a monster following them as
> they struggle up the slopes above the abyss, while Salvation waits for them
> at the top, where there is a passage between the cliffs, where one never
> seems to arrives.
> Even Fausto Coppi.
> Even Gino Bartali.
> It's absolutely certain - They awake with a start, gasping.
> They turn on the light.
> They look at the clock.
> They sigh - it is time to leave.