Translated from the original ‘Storia della Legnano‘ posted by newsciclismo May 30, 2011
The story of Italian bicycles begins from the ‘L’ in Legnano. No other cycling brand can boast a similar number of victories in competition as Legnano, thanks to champions like Alfredo Binda, Learco Guerra, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi and Ercole Baldini.
Since 1902 the name Legnano has meant quality, reliability and style in the production of bicycles. The great tradition of Legnano was formed on the roads of the most important races such as the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy and many Classics.
E ‘1902 when the workshop of Vittorio Rossi started his bicycle manufacturing business. On steel frames of his bicycle marked “Lignon” appears. The mark proves immediately successful: shortly thereafter fact comes the first victory in a bicycle race, the “Val di Taro Cup”.
The name Legnano enter the world of every day in 1908, when Emilio Bozzi founded his company “Emilio Bozzi & C”.m based in Milan at Corso Genova 9. His intention is to produce complete bicycles, following what the British had already begun to do at that time. Bozzi had meanwhile acquired the Pearl and Frejus brands.
The first model is called Aurora. Following Emilio Bozzi gets in company with Franco Tosi, a businessman from Legnano business and was looking for new business opportunities in the bicycle manufacturing industry. The Tosi himself had already acquired a number of patents from a new British company, the Wolsit. The company, not yet specialized in manufacturing bicycles, produced the “Moped Wolsit”, manufactured between 1910 and 1914, which later sold the patent to the German N.S.U.
797391117.jpegLa turning point came in 1924, when fascism began to get interested in the world of the samples of cycle sport. The strict orders is that all Italian cyclists will run only on Italian bike. E ‘right now comes the first great insight Bozzi: to offer a lifetime contract to a young painter who moved to France with his family, already had distinguished himself in 38 different cycling races: thus the myth of Alfredo Binda.
Meanwhile, the company changes name and becomes Legnano. The symbol that represents it is to Alberto da Giussano, the leader who succeeded in defeating Frederick Barbarossa. It is said that it was the same Binda to draw his first sketches of Legnano brand. The Legnano bicycles increased from an initial blue color to olive green, before landing at the end of the ’30s to the characteristic color “lizard”. The Legnano frames have a feature that makes them immediately recognizable: the bolt stops the saddle is positioned in front of the vertical column.
Binda proves a real investment for Legnano, winning 5 editions of the Giro d’Italia in 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1933. It is reported that in 1930 the organization of the Giro paid Binda 22,500 pounds not to enter the race in the interests of reviving public interest in the event, his victory being a forgone conclusion if he raced. The Legnano brand became so famous worldwide. While the factory produces excellent bike, the sports sector is entrusted to Eberardo Pavesi said “the avucatt”.
With him at the helm the Legnano reached the pinnacle of world cycling: 6 won world titles (only Binda he wins 3) 15 editions of the Tour of Italy, the second Tour de France and won dozens of other classics.
The myth of Binda sets in 1930 because of a bad fall. At that time he began to be felt the rivalry with Bianchi. But Pavesi has another ace up his sleeve: his name is Gino Bartali, calling at Legnano in 1936 at age 22, after a season pass to the Frejus. Bartali thanked the trust in the same year by winning the Tour of Italy and two years later gave to Legnano his first success at the Tour de France. The yellow color that replaces the traditional green Tour Legnano wears well at home in Milan.
With Bartali starts a new season of successes for the brand of the warrior, which reaches its apex in 1939 when Pavesi alongside expert Bartali a young “skinny”, called Fausto Coppi.
Without knowing it, Pavesi had started the cycling challenge that would soon split Italy in two. Until 1942 Gino and Fausto run side by side in Legnano grinding successes against all their opponents. To divide them now is not their rivalry, but the second World War that will make them meet again only five years later, and from opponents. Before the forced break because of the military conflict Fausto gives the fans one last blaze Legnano: it is the record of who wins at Vigorelli in Milan under enemy bombardment.
In the immediate post-war Italy needs heroes to attach. Them located in the cycling world: their names are Gino and Fausto, who for the joy of everyone returns to race though for separate teams. Coppi has just signed a contract with Bianchi. Bartali but does not intend to give him room and shows his character by winning the Tour de France in 1948. In 1949 Gino leaves Legnano, that is hard to find a replacement to its height. Abstinence from the podium lasts until 1956. At the Melbourne Olympics the young forlivese Ercole Baldini won the foot race on road and bears the CE Emilio Bozzi on the upper echelons of the world. Shortly Baldini will give another series of successes at Legnano on a lightweight bike at the time of Coppi beat the hour record, while in 1958 he won the World Championship.
The Legnano struggling to find champions within the reach of its history and begins a slow but inexorable decline, culminating with the assassination of Emilio Bozzi in the 70s at the hands of a terrorist group. After his disappearance, the family does not intend to take over the farm, which after a period of ups and downs in 1987 was sold to White, longtime rival.
Eventually both the Bianchi and Legnano brands were acquired by the multinational Cycleurope Group, who decided to maintain the tradition of the Bianchi brand at the expense of the Legnano brand that was relegated to low-level economic production. Following a lengthy legal challenge in 2008, an Italian court awarded the rights to the Legnano brand to the heirs of Emilio Bozzi.
Legnano today in a photo taken at the 2010 Expo Bici held late September in Padua, Italy. The presentation of the ‘revived’ Legano brand included road bikes, mtb’s, sport models, a tandem and a Gran Sport ‘fixie’ model presented in a vintage orange paint scheme. Let’s hope the Legnano name made famous by Binda, Bartali and Coppi will once again find the podium with a new generation of champions.