The 1955 Milan-San Remo

The 46th edition of Milan-San Remo was won by the Belgian Germain Derijcke riding for the Alcyon-Dunlop team. Derijcke was born on 2nd November 1929 in Bellegem, West Flanders and had a career lasting nine years from 1951 to 1960. In his first year as a professional he took the 23rd stage of the Tour de France when he headed home a group of eight riders into Dijon. Derijcke went on to win many other races including the 1953 Paris-Roubaix, 1954 Fleche-Wallone, and the 1958 Tour of Flanders.

His most unusual victory however came in  in the 1957 Liege-Bastonne-Liege. "La Doyenne"  that year saw half the field abandon before Bastonne due to the poor weather conditions with hail and snow. Derijcke had been in a small group who were held up by a closed level crossing gate. Not wanting to freeze he crawled under the gate and carried on win. The second placed rider, fellow Belgian Frans Schoubben had waited for the gate to open and came in second almost three minutes down. He could have protested and gained first place but chose not to do so. To be fair to both riders the organisers decided on a dead heat and gave first place to both Derijcke and Schoubben.

"La Classicissima" in 1957 was held on Saturday 19 March over a distance of 282 km on a cold and cloudy day although the sun shone at the start and finish. Of the 167 who started from the Castello Sforzesco in Milan 104 would see San Remo.  Pictured above is the newly elected president of the UVI Angelo Farina getting ready to start the race.

1955 Milan-San Remo Start
First to attack was the the Italian Vittorio Seghezzi. He was joined by Impanis, Ferlenghi, Cabrioli and Ambrose and their lead grew. Between Casteggio and Voghera three riders, Nascimbene, Ciapini and Ciochetta, leave the peloton and catch the leaders. At Tortona and the start of the Turchino Pass the eight had an advantage of 3' 40" over the peloton. Here three men, Piazza, Giacchero and Landi went off the front of the bunch and chased the fugitives.  The picture below left shows the peloton chasing on the Turchino. Vittorio Ferlenghi attacked his breakaway companions and is seen going over the top of the climb (below centre) in first place and coming out of the tunnel (below right).

The peloton on the TurchinoFerlenghi tops Turchino firstFerlenghi esits the tunnel

The attacks on the Turchino would come to nothing, as did a solo escape by the Italian Donato Piazza riding for the Nivea-Fuchs team. The decisive move came on the first of the capi or coastal hills, the Capo Mele, when Bernard Gauthier (Mercier)
and Germain Derijcke attacked (below).

 Gauthier leads Derijcke

The two leaders however were chased by the Mauro Gianneschi (Arbos) and the young Italian caught them as they neared Sanremo (below left and centre). The 23 year old Tuscan, Gianneschi, had been a promising amateur rider. His only win in the professional ranks however was during the 1954 Giro d'Italia when he took the 230 km stage 11 from Cesenatico-Abetone. World Champion Jean Bobet (seen leading below right), brother of three times Tour de France winner Louison, would mount a spectacular chase and would also catch the leaders but had little left for the sprint.

  Gauthier, Giannesci and DerijckeDerijcke leads from Gauthier and GianneschiBobet chase

Germain Derijcke won the sprint on the Via Roma ahead of Gauthier, Bobet and Gianneschi

Sprint for fifth place

Derijcke celebratesDerijcke celebrates

Derijcke celebrates

Photographs © La Gazzetta dello Sport

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