23rd Vuelta a Espana 1968

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

 

 

Terrorists Can't Stop La Vuelta

The World was protesting in 1968, the demonstrations of “The French May” were featured in a year filled with student protests and social upheaval. The 23rd edition of La Vuelta a Espana (April 25 to May 12, 1968) fell under the revolutionary atmosphere of the time.

Stage 15 from Vitoria to Pamplona was the target of terrorists and nearly ended in tragedy. A Basque freedom organization Euskadi Ta Aaskatasuna—ETA (meaning Basque Fatherland and Freedom) placed an explosive devise on the race route. Fortunately the devise exploded just minutes before the peloton arrived. There were no injuries but incident caused the cancellation of the stage. The terrorists couldn't stop the Vuelta.

The incident disrupted the race but could not spoil one of the most brilliant editions of Vuelta a Espana. The race featured great individual efforts and the results were up for grabs well into the late stages.

A very intense fight was developing as the race got to its highest peaks on the stage 12. Meeting the mountains for the first time in 1968 Spanish climber Jose Pérez-Francés attacked and made his first attempt to breakaway. Through mist, wind, hail, and snow Pérez-Francés rode over the summit of the Puerto de Pajares alone and proceeded to plunge perilously down the mountain. At the finish in Gijón Pérez-Francés won the stage and took the Amarillo race leader's Jersey by a slim 20 seconds over Rudi Altig and over a minute to Gimondi. Joyful fans thought the race champion had been decided. Italian star Felice Gimondi, winner of the TdF 1965 and the Giro 1967, had other ideas.

Two stages later, the difficult route between Santander and Vitoria , Gimondi, trailing in the overall by 3'03”, launched an attack of his own with 50 km remaining in the stage. A five rider group escaped and hit the base of the Orduña climb nearly 2 minutes ahead. Gimondi escaped alone on the climb and caught four of the five breakaway riders. He finished 1'56” ahead of the race leader and put on the Amarillo Jersey.

The terrorist's distraction of stage 15 were put aside as the penultimate stage 17, a 67 km time trial between San Sebastian and Tolosa, saw Gimondi increase his advantage to more than two minutes.

One stage later Felice Gimondi (Ita) rode into Bilboa to become only the second rider in the history of cycling after Jacques Anquetil (Fra) to win each of the three Grand Tours.

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1a Zaragoza-Zaragoza, 130 km

Jan Janssen (Hol)

Jan Janssen (Hol)

Stage 1b Zaragoza-Zaragoza, 4 km ITT

Jan Janssen (Hol)

Jan Janssen (Hol)

Stage 2 Zaragoza-Lerida, 195 km

Michael Wright (GBr)

Jan Janssen (Hol)

Stage 3a Lerida-Barcelona, 165 km

Tomaso De Pra (Spa)

Jan Janssen (Hol)

Stage 3b Barcelona/Montjuich, 38 km

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Stage 4 Barcelona-Salou, 108 km

Michael Wright (GBr)

Michael Wright (GBr)

Stage 5 Salou-Vinaroz, 106 km

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Stage 6 Vinaroz-Valencia, 148 km

Pietro Guerra (Spa)

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Stage 7 Valencia-Benidorm, 144 km

Wilfried Peffgen (Ger)

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Stage 8 Benidorm-Almansa, 167 km

Manuel Martin-Pinera (Spa)

Manuel Martin-Pinera (Spa)

Stage 9 Almansa-Alcazar de San Juan , 230 km

Jose-Maria Errandonea (Spa)

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Stage 10 Alcazar San Juan-Madrid, 173 km

Domingo Perurena (Spa)

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Stage 11 Madrid-Valencia, 242 km

Ramon Saez (Spa)

Rudi Altig (Ger)

Stage 12 Villalon de Campos-Gijon, 236 km

Jose Perez-Frances (Spa)

Jose Perez-Frances (Spa)

Stage 13 Gijon-Santander, 203 km

Victor Van Schil (Bel)

Jose Perez-Frances (Spa)

Stage 14 Santander-Vitoria, 244 km

Eduardo Castello (Spa)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 15 Vitoria-Pamplona, Canceled

Stage Canceled (Bad road)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 16 Pamplona-San Sebastian, 204 km

Luis-Pedro Santamarina (Spa)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 17 San Sebastian-Tolosa, 67 km ITT

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 18 Tolosa-Bilbao, 206 km

Manuel Martin-Pinera (Spa)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

 

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Francisco Gabica (Spa)
 

POINT'S COMPETITION

Jan Janssen (Hol)


VaE April 25 - May 12, 1968
3,010 km

1. Felice GIMONDI (Ita) 78h29'00"

2. Jose Perez-Frances (Spa) +2'15"

3. Eusebio Velez (Spa) +5'08"

Starters: 90
Finishers: 51
Average Speed: 38.355 km/h


 

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