KUBLER RETIRES FROM TOUR OF ITALY
Italians Ahead in Early Stages
De Santi Leads, But Very Open Race After Six Stages
WHEN 112 of the world's best riders left Milan for Abano, famed Northern Italian resort for mud baths and hot springs, on Tuesday of last week, it was not anticipated that among those retiring on this first stage of the Tour of Italy would be the Swiss ace Ferdi Kubler. As his countryman and protege, Graf, gave up with him, it meant an early blow to Swiss hopes for a second victory in the race in three years. When Hugo Koblet won in 1951 he was the first foreigner to succeed in this great classic and his recent return to form had enhanced the power of the Swiss challenge. Kubler's retirement was the chief talking point of the day and its absolute necessity was questioned, although he had had gear trouble and was compelled to ride in top gear for many miles, finally arriving at the feeding station (105 miles), with Graf, many minutes in arrears. The stage was won by Willy Van Est, of Holland, who broke away with 25 miles to go, quickly gained 1 1/2 minutes and in an inspired bout of pedalling on a gear of 99 in. built up a lead of nearly three minutes. Italian De Santi also got clear in the final 10 miles and gained on Van Est, but at Abano, after 164 miles, the Dutchman was 1 min. 37 sec. ahead in 6.37.10 and the peloton of 97 riders, including most of the star performers, was back at 2 min. 52 sec.
Already back at 11 minutes was pursuit star Bevilacqua, victim of a fall.
By the time that the Tour reached Rome on Sunday night the race lead was held by De Santi with Fornara at 1 min 51 sec and j Koblet, Bartali, Coppi, Bobet and Brasola all level at 2 min. 1 sec. Van Est was 8th at 2 min. 6 sec.
The 171 miles to Rimini on the second day included the formidable San Marino mountain climb in the last 25 miles, and this brought about a big break-up of the field. As the climb was approached Fornara (Italy) attacked strongly and got away to a clear
lead. On the climb the stars made their efforts, but Fornara led by 1 1/4 minutes over the summit, with Bartali second, Coppi, five seconds back, third, Koblet near and Bobet at 2 min. 10 sec. On the summit Bobet punctured; Koblet had chain trouble and Coppi changed a wheel. It delayed a combined pursuit of Fornara - but Bartali and Koblet got together, so did Coppi, Bobet and De Santi, the riders grouped, with Brasola, and then chased with an intensity that boded ill for Fornara. But the end was near and he fought on to reach the finish with 10 slender seconds still in hand of this all-star group, with the peloton back at three minutes. De Santi took over as race leader, Van Est puncturing twice, ascending and descending the mountain.
Thursday's 113 miles along the Adriatic coast to San Benedetto were comparatively easy and "processional" for nearly 90 miles. Bartali and Bobet crashed at the start, but rejoined Quite easily, CrociTorti also coming down and having to retire with a fractured shoulder. With 25 miles to go and Wagtmans (Holland) showing liveliness, Crespi (Belgium). Wagtmans, Conterno, Gismondi, Buratti and Coletto broke away, gained minutes, and stayed ahead to finish in that order. Race positions were unaffected as the eight leaders came in with the 103-strong peloton!
On Friday the race moved inland to Roccaraso, 105 miles, including, some very stiff climbing and being ridden at below 20 mph Fausto Coppi has won many races but he is not renowned as a sprinter when there is a big bunch at the finish and it was quite exceptional when he came out to win from 28 other riders with Albani second, Bobet third and Bartali fourth. The sixth place of Koblet followed a really outstanding performance. At the feeding station at Papoli, 71 miles, a young girl impeded his progress and he crashed and damaged his machine, losing exactly 4 minutes. Within 14 miles, after sensational chasing to the foot of the biggest mountain climb, he rejoined the riders! Fornara was again outstanding on the hills and went over the top with a lead of 25 seconds, but after the descent he was caught by the 28 riders who raced by to contest the finishing sprint. Fornara remained ahead in the race but only by 1 min. 10 sec.
Once again the ace riders came in with the peloton, 2 min. 43 sec. behind a breakaway group of eight riders, on the fifth stage to Naples, with E. Milano winning from Conterno and Rocks of Belgium after covering the 93 miles in 4.1.15. The fact: positions were unaltered but De Santi went into the lead on the Naples-Rome stage on Sunday, when he got into a group of seven riders who broke away to lead the peloton. by 2 min. 1 sec. at the finish. Minardi won the sprint from Maggini with Guidici third. The distance was 180 miles, the winning time being 8.14.18.