November 2007

By Graham Jones
CyclingRevealed Historian










The World's: Back to Back

Gianni Bugno (WC 1991 & 1992), Italy

Gianni Bugno
Bugno's WCRR in 1992

In 1992 Gianni Bugno was the poster boy of his adoring tifosi the length and breadth of Italy . But controversy came when the Italian press vilified him for refusing to ride that year's Giro. It was unthinkable that the reigning (Italian) World Champion and UCI #1 ranked rider not ride his own country's Grand Tour.

Gone were the days of Rik I and Rik II when the champions literally rode anything and everything all season long. The headstrong Bugno stated, “A champion should be allowed to follow his own program without criticism.” In his opinion “The Tour de France is the biggest there is, the most beautiful, the most important.” That was his goal.

In the manner of the modern rider, Bugno wanted to focus his 1992 season around the Tour and so to escape the Italian media pressure he traveled to the USA to ride the Tour Du Pont. With about 1,000 miles of racing, and including very high quality riders like Greg LeMond, Bugno said that he and his team had arrived to do some serious racing.

Although his preparation had been meticulous and he had some respite from the Italian media while in the US , it was not enough. In his debut Tour in 1990 Bugno had been third on GC. That same year he had won the Giro by taking the race lead on stage 1 and then never relinquishing. However the Tour was another animal and, as he had experienced in the 1991 version, he was at the mercy of Miguel Indurain. Bugno was second in ‘91 and third in ‘92. Being the champion that he is Bugno once said, “It's always better to win. Second, it's not much.”

Bugno's list of major achievements may not be as long as those of the two Riks but the Tour of Flanders (1994, pictured) is there along with the Milan-SanRemo (1990), Clásica de San Sebastián (1991) and two Italian Road Championships ('91 and '95). From single day races to the Grand Tours Gianni Bugno demonstrated the qualities of a Grand Champion who could win mostly where and when he wanted, no matter the terrain or weather conditions .



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