"The atmosphere which surrounded the event was electric, built up with the anticipation of the show down - smash it to the border and back on one perfect road......."
1987 Villach Austria - The year Italy took gold from Russia in the 100km cycling team trial UCI world championship, after one hour fifty seven minutes and forty two seconds tethered to their time trial bikes by a steel cord. Russia finished twelve seconds behind. Italy recorded an average speed of 50.977 km/h. The weather in Villach on the second of September 1987 was perfect for a world team time trial event.
The Course Heaven for any Cyclist - The autobahn leading to the Italian border had been closed to traffic for a couple of days prior to the race, creating traffic jam chaos in Villach. Teams were allowed the luxury of inspecting and training on the course complete with Austrian motorcycle police at their disposal, on a closed road, heaven for any cyclist, no cars. Imagine a perfectly surfaced Autobahn 25 km of it reserved for your exclusive use, you roll up to the start line ready to inspect the course and complete your final couple of days training, there, a row of motorcycle police await you, as you enter the course two peel off, one in front and one behind. Bonus there's no traffic, all the cars are gridlocked in Villach. You stop to decide on the best line through a corner, the motorcycle police pull over, lean on their bike helmet off and nonchalantly light up a cigarette, glad of the easiest job that week. There's a steady climb up to the Italian border, next there's the turnaround at the border about sixteen lanes wide, an easy turnaround. Next slam it in the twelve and smash it back down the hill towards Villach as the course flattens out again. One more turnaround at the 50 k mark across the same finish line where Stephen Roche will win his triple crown days later. (Roche claimed the triple crown of the Giro d' Italia, Tour de France and World Title) Back again for lap two. With two laps of the fifty kilometre course and the hill at the border traversed twice, the last few k's run on the road race course where it finished up a short sharp climb, one last burst of pain to the line.
The atmosphere which surrounded the event was electric, built up with the anticipation of the show down, smash it to the border and back on a perfect road. The Italians had arrived on the scene with their new experimental rider to bike tether adding to the suspense. An Italian pantomime in two parts. Part one THE TETHER, will it actually enhance performance, you have to hand it to the Italians for attempts at innovation, Moser's giant rear wheel time trial bike another example, all now relegated to history. Part two THE PERFORMANCE, tether or no tether the results speak for themselves. Roberto Fortunato | Eros Poli | Mario Scirea | Flavio Vanzella 1st in 1.57.42 AVS 50.977kmh. Italy created a sensation with their win, ushering in a second era of Italian domination, it's genisis invoked a couple of years earlier at the Los Angeles Olympic games. At Los Angeles Marcello Bartalini, Marco Giovannetti, Eros Poli and Claudio Vandelli recorded a scintillating time of 1:58:28 at an average speed of 50.6471 km/h. In 1985 Italy were third, then at Colorado Springs in 1986 they took second place, the scene was set for Villach. It all began way back in 1960, winning in Rome at the Olympic Games, followed with a win at the first UCI world team time trial 100 km event held at Salo, Brescia Italy in 1962, then a second place in 1963 at Renaix. Back on the top step of the podium again at Sallanches in 1964, then second at the Olympic games the same year, again winning at Lasarte-Oria in 1965. More minor placings followed from 1966 to 1968, the first age of dominance over. Almost a decade passed before Italy once again stepped onto the podium at San Cristóbal Venezuela in 1977 with second place.
After Villach, Italy continued to dominate the event with more wins and placings, the Italians had taken out the first Olympic event in 1960, then the first UCI team time trial 100 km event in 1962 and the last race ever at Agrigento Italy, once again belonged to the host nation.
Here's the complete results from Villach including times at the 50 k mark, then where they finished at the line. Apparently at a meeting of UCI officials and team representatives prior to the race, the actual course distance was declared as being 101 km, not 100 km as stated on the timing sheets, if this is correct (not verified) the performances and times recorded at Villach even more impressive.