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Gavia Warrior: Andy Hampsten

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“5 June, 1988 – The Day the Strong Men Cried”

The Gavia Pass stage of the 1988 Giro not only proved to be the pivotal day
of the entire race, but the sheer brutality of the conditions the racers
faced made this one of the truly classic days in history of professional
cycling. The great Italian cyclist and former winner of the Giro, *Francesco
Moser* put the whole affair into perspective, “I have seen stages where it
finished on a climb in conditions like this, but never with such a descent.”
One must remember that in 1988, the Gavia Pass was still largely a dirt road
on the south side, which the riders ascended, and the first 3 miles on the
descent were also dirt! However, all things change and this year, the
last of the dirt was finally paved. They key player in this whole drama
and the winner of the 1988 Giro, Andy Hampsten, finally returned to the
Gavia Pass this summer. Andy has never given a full account of the epic
climb and descent, and it is almost ironic that on the day he rode back up
and over the Gavia to tell the tale, there was a record setting heat wave
in Northern Italy. Your intrepid reporter accompanied Andy over the pass
on their bikes, attempting to record every comment between gasping for breath
and hoping that Andy’s legs would somehow fail him, something that clearly
did not happen on that fateful day 10 years ago.

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