Alfonsina Morini – the only woman who did the Giro
Women’s cycling goes way back. We all know that the first official world championships for women were in 1958 (Reims France) won by Elsy Jacobs from the Luxembourg. But that was not the start of women’s cycling. In 1868 it were 3 sisters from Bordeaux France, Amélie, Finette and Rosita who challenged each other. Keeping their last name secret as it was kind of a violation of public morals to race as a woman.
But is not what I want to share with you. There is an even better story. The story of Alfonsina Morini (Strada).
Alfonsina was the first and only woman who participated in the Giro d’Italia in 1924. That year she had won 36 races and organizer Emilio Colombo invited her as most of the big teams boycotted the Giro. He thought that this stunt would give more attention to the race and he was right!
First she was registered as Alfonsin Strada to cause confusion. Strada was the name of her husband. But after the start of the Giro, Colombo made his “surprise” announced and it made a big stir. But as she did very well between the man she became extremely popular.
Halfway the Giro in a long stage (296 KM) she fell a few times and broke her handlebars. She used a broomstick to replace the handlebars and finished the stage. But she and a lot of men were outside the time limit and put out of the race. Colombo tried to let her stay in the race but the jury stuck to their decision. She was out. She was allowed to finish the Giro out of competition. Colombo paid for all her expenses as she continued. Alfonsina was so popular that all spectators waited for her every day at the finish line. At the end of the Giro she finished 20 hours behind the winner Guiseppe Enrici. But she did finish before 2 male riders who were still in the official race.
Her prize money (50.000 Lire) largely exceeded that of overal winner Enrici.
The next year she wanted to participate again, but she got a lot of resistance of the big teams who did participate in the Giro that year.