Just because you might not have heard of a rider, doesn’t mean they’re not a class act.
Silvano Contini might be, for certain readers, a new name to you. It certainly was for me, but do your research and you realise that in his day, Contini was a rider to watch.
Born in 1958, he was a contemporary and rival to legends like Hinault, Fignon, Moser and Saronni in the 1980s. He built a reputation as a climber in stage races, but he could turn his hand to one-day classics, especially the tougher, hillier ones. He gained his biggest win in the oldest one-day monument – Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 1982. Three years previously, in his debut year, he nearly pulled off a dream debut victory, coming a close 2nd at the Tour of Lombardy, losing out to the then World Champion, Bernard Hinault in a 2 up sprint.
He had the pleasure of wearing Parentini in 1985 when he was signed for the new Ariostea squad. During this year, he won a stage and the overall of the Midi Libre (an important French stage race) and the overall at the Giro di Puglia. The following year the squad morphed into the GIS team, still resplendent in Parentini jerseys. This year, 1986, saw his career on the wane, his last win being the Giro dell’Umbria in 1987 when riding for Del Tongo.
However, classy rider to the end of his career, Contini donned the Maglia Rosa 5 times at the 1989 Giro d’Italia, adding to his previous 9 jerseys in his Giro collection. 1982 saw him win three stages at the Italian Grand Tour, both of them hard earned in the mountains. This consistency saw him third overall that year, losing out yet again to the winner Hinault with Contini’s Bianchi teammate Tommy Prim in 2nd.
3rd in the Giro and winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. You need class to do that.