11th Vuelta a Espana 1956

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closest Finish in Vuelta History

The popularity of the Vuelta a Espana (VaE) began to expand in 1956. The big stars of cycling come to compete for the championship with a very talented field of Spanish riders.

Stage 1 from Bilbao to Santander experienced ‘Belgian type' weather, with cold temperatures, high wind, and even some snow. Several major contenders including Emilio Rodriguez were hampered by the weather and lost valuable time on the stage. Belgian Rik Van Steenbergen welcomed the adverse weather and sprinted to the stage win and the race leader's jersey.

Again this year the very talented Spanish team had internal problems. Team director Luis Puig structured the team with Miguel Poblet and Miguel Bover riding for stage the wins with Federico Bahamontes and Jesus Lorono competing for the King of the Mountains and Salvador Botella trying for General Classification (GC). The friction started when Lorono did not appreciate the director's choice. He stated: "I beat Botella to the Grand Prix d'Eibar. I have more fitness and should be the team leader for the GC".

The full drama began to unfold on stage 2 from Santander to Oviedo . Shortly after the departure a 3 rider breakaway formed and began to build a gap. Quickly Italian Angelo Conterno saw the opportunity and bridged to the breakaway. The group steadily built a 3'05” lead before Conterno attacked the breakaway group and soloed to the stage win. He took the race lead and with 17 stages to go no one seemed concerned.

Conterno battled to hold an 8 second lead going into the final 4 stage. Federico Bahamontes was poised to attack the race leader in the mountains. Stage 15 from San Sebastian to Bilbao featured the brutal climb of the Urkiola. Bahamontes escaped and became the “race leader on the road”. The solo Bahamontes suffered a seies of puncure and on the descent Jesus Lorono and a tired Conterno chased him down. With Spanish help Conterno narrowly retained his fragile race lead.

The final opportunity came on a rain soaked stage 16; Bahamontes was again on the attack. However he suffered several punctures and a crash and lost 4 minutes. Jesus Lorono was the next challenger to attack. Over the final climb of the Vuelta, the Sollube, Lorono broke clear of Conterno. An international coalition formed to help with the chase and saved the Italian's lead. The race officials penalized Conterno 30 seconds for a rules infraction, but Lorono's time gap at the end of stage 16 was 43 seconds.

Angelo Conterno rode into Bilbao to claim a 13 second victory over Jesus Lorono.

Stage and Distance Stage Winner Race Leader

Stage 1 Bilbao-Santander, 203 km

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Stage 2 Santander-Oviedo, 248 km

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 3 Oviedo-Valladolid, 175 km

Miguel Poblet (Spa)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 4 Valladolid-Madrid, 212 km

Claude Le Ber (Fra)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 5 Madrid-Albacete, 241 km

Miguel Poblet (Spa)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 6 Albacete-Alicante, 227 km

Miguel Poblet (Spa)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 7 Alicante-Valence, 182 km

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 8 Valence-Tarragone, 249 km

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 9 Tarragona-Barcelone, 163 km

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 10a Barcelona/Montjuich, 21 km TTT

FRANCE

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 10b Barcelone-Tarrega, 112 km

Gilbert Bauvin (Fra)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 11 Tarrega-Saragosse, 238 km

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 12 Saragosse-Bayonne, 274 km

Giancarlo Astrua (Spa)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 13a Bayonne-Irun, 43 km ITT

Claude Le Ber (Fra)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 13b Irun-Pamplona, 111 km

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 14 Pamplona-San Sebastian, 195 km

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 15 San Sebastian-Bilbao, 225 km

Nino Defilippis (Ita)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 16 Bilbao-Vitoria, 207 km

Benigno Azpuru (Spa)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

Stage 17 Vitoria-Bilbao, 190 km

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Angelo Conterno (Ita)

 
Mountain Prize
Nino Defilippis (Ita)
 
Points Competition
Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

 

VaE April 26 - May 11, 1956
3,735 Km

1. Angelo CONTERNO (Ita) 105h37'52"

2. Jesus Lorono (Spa) +13"

3. Raymond Impanis (Bel) +1'54"

Starters: 90
Finishers: 40
Average Speed: 33.484 km/h

 

 

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