In the 100 year history of the Giro d'Italia only one American has ever stood on the top step of the podium. In 1988, Andy Hampsten became the first, and only, US rider to win the pink jersey or 'maglia rosa.' Not only did Hampsten create cycling history as the first American winner, but he took the leader's jersey in a snowstorm on the Gavia Pass on a stage that has become legendary.
That stage on the Gavia Pass is known as 'the day strong men cried' because the brutal conditions forced many of the best professional riders in the world to crack and seek shelter from the storm in their team cars. That wouldn't seem to be a bad thing, but the race was still in progress. Snow fell heavily on the ascent of the 8500' pass, but it was the raging blizzard on the descent that separated the men from the boys.
Andy Hampsten didn't win the stage that day. He finished seven seconds behind Erik Bruekink. But, he won two other stages and held off Breukink on the final day's time trial stage held in pouring rain. It was that kind of grand tour and Hampsten's was a well-deserved win.
Now, you can own a slice of history by purchasing a newly designed poster featuring a photo of Andy climbing the Gavia Pass in the snow. Next time you are on the fence about going out for a ride in less-than-ideal conditions you can look at Andy's face and hair caked with snow and realize that the weather outside isn't too bad. Check out www.cinghiale.com for details on ordering.
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