American road racer Andy Hampsten, racing for Team 7-Eleven, won the Giro d’Italia in 1988, beating Dutchman Erik Breukink by 1:43 by the final stage on 12 June.
The epic battles between man and nature went down as one of the most brutal on record, most notably on stage 14, as Hampsten and Breukink overcame a massive snowstorm on the Gavia Pass to usurp the powerful Italian duo Flavio Giupponi and Franco Chioccioli of the Del Tongo-Colnago team, who finished fourth and fifth overall, repsectively. Hampsten took over the leader’s maglia rosa as Breukink won the stage.
BikeRadar asked Hampsten about that day, and the famous Sergio Penazzo photo that solidified the Ohio and North Dakota native as Grand Campionissimo in Italy forever.
BikeRadar: What’s up with the goggles? Are those standard issue Oakleys or something else?
Andy Hampsten: Oakley Factory Pilots. Yellow lenses, not too much lanolin on them yet from my hands. They might be the model with lens tear-offs, but I didn’t use the tear-offs for this day.
Have you been anywhere near as miserable on the bike since then?
AH: Nope. Well actually this photo was taken on the uphill, about where the 2390 is on the graph. So the 25km down to Bormio was where the real cold and clicking of the heels kicked in. I’d tell you what that was like if I could: think of freshman finals week, you didn’t study, you tripped and fell into an ice bath on your way into the class room. Naked. After mourning your cat dying that morning. You get the idea.
When was the last time you and Erik Breukink talked about that stage?
AH: Never really did; we were pretty mana a mano in the races after that.
How old were you on that day?
AH: I must have been 26 then, a bit older now. Come to think of it I look good with all that white hair!
Want to buy a signed poster of Andy Hampsten crossing the Gavia Pass on June 5, 1988? Click here for more information.