Our history starts, as is well known, a long way back. It began on 25 April 1946, even before the referendum of 2 and 3 June sanctioned the advent of the Republic.
That 25 April 1946 was the first anniversary of the Liberation of Italy from Nazi-fascism and Rome was still invaded by the rubble and grief of war. There was already, however, a great desire to rebuild and to erase a sad past.
At a time when cycle paths were still far from being invented, the bicycle was a tool first for work, then for fun and finally for sport. On 25 April 1946, a cycle race was held that over time has become much more than a sporting event, a veritable institution, inextricably linked to the profound significance of its name and its day on the calendar. It was run around the Baths of Caracalla, along a unique route, with passages at Porta Ardeatina, Porta San Paolo and Piramide.
The first edition was 80 kilometres long: Gustavo Guglielmetti won, covering the 80 kilometres in 2h 09' 16'' at an average speed of 37.5 km/h, which was very high considering the roads and materials of the time. The first editions were carried out with the collaboration of the A.N.P.I. (National Association of Italian Partisans) and the patronage of the Corriere dello Sport, the capital's sports daily. In subsequent years, the Gran Premio della Liberazione found a home in another newspaper, l'Unità, which set up a company - Gruppo Sportivo l'Unità - exclusively dedicated to organising the race.
Years later, another changeover: l'Unità passed the baton to the Velo Club Primavera Ciclistica. The heart and soul of these two clubs is the journalist Eugenio Bomboni, who has projected the Gran Premio della Liberazione into an international dimension. It was his idea to link sport and history with the deposition, by the winner of the race, of a laurel wreath on the plaque that, at Porta San Paolo, recalls the partisan struggle.
Bomboni also had the idea of involving great painters. Many important artists, inspired by the Grand Prix of Liberation, have offered their works: Empedocle Amato, Enrico Benaglia Gianpaolo Berto, Ennio Calabria, Sandro Chia, Ettore De Conciliis, Elvo Di Stefano, Fernando Farulli, Sebastian Mattia, Giacomo Porzano, Aligi Sassu, Alberto Sughi are just some of the painters who have enriched the picture gallery of the Velo Club Primavera Ciclistica.
In the 1960s, the Gran Premio della Liberazione was the first race in the world to host the national teams of Eastern Europe, when the athletes of those countries were forbidden to make the leap into the professional ranks in order to remain fully in the Olympic sphere, a sector reserved for amateurs until 1992. This is why the 1960 edition saw the participation of many foreign runners, who came to Rome to 'train' on the Olympic route.
The "Liberation" can boast of an authentic vocation to host foreign representatives: from Argentina to Australia there are few nations that have not entered their athletes in the Grand Prix.
The international nature of the race has earned it the nickname of "Spring World Cup". And this is not just an exercise in pure rhetoric, as the circuit of the Terme di Caracalla, which is very complex and particularly selective, ensures that whoever wins the race will have a professional contract from the following season.
For this reason, and to give more proposals to the participating teams, from 1976 to 2009 and always thanks to Eugenio Bomboni, the Velo Club Primavera Ciclistica also organised 33 editions of the Giro delle Regioni, an international stage race. In an indissoluble unicum with the Liberation, the Giro delle Regioni began on 26 April (sometimes with a spectacular start on the evening of the 25th) and closed on 1 May, workers' day. This was later joined by 16 editions of the Nations Cup time trial, the Fausto Coppi Memorial, the Adriatic Cup and three editions of the women's Giro d'Italia.
The last major transition took place in 1996, with the great mutation that overturned amateur sport. With the transformation of "amateurs" into "Under 23" and "Elite", the Gran Premio della Liberazione became a race reserved for the Under 23 category, riders aged 19 to 23 who do not yet have a professional contract. Despite the change in form, the substance has not changed and the Liberation has continued to be a coveted appointment to be able to carve out a great place in professional cycling.
For many years now, the 'home' of the Gran Premio della Liberazione has been the Terme di Caracalla circuit, approved for its historical value by the UCI (International Cycling Union) as a derogation from the regulations that stipulate a minimum length of 12 km for international circuit races. In some editions, the circuit has been "lengthened" with passages in the last two laps in Piazza del Campidoglio and Via dei Fori Imperiali (start and finish line).
One might think of this return to the past, with the aim of highlighting the efforts made by the Capitoline Administration to 'free' the heart of the city from cars.
The Gran Premio della Liberazione has been held uninterruptedly from 1946 to 2018, always on 25 April, consolidating its position as the most important cycling event in the capital, the only one on a competitive level after the relocation of the Memorial Romano Scotti Cyclo-cross race to another venue. It is rightfully among the top five most important sporting events in Rome, together with the Marathon, Formula E and the International Tennis Championships.
The race has always been held under the aegis of the International Cycling Union and the Italian Cycling Federation, and in recent years has been included in the calendar of the UCI Europe Tour, a circuit of cycle races held in Europe.
In step with the exponential growth of women's cycling, even the Gran Premio Liberazione, thanks to the collaboration with Cicli Lazzaretti, has been ready, flanking for several seasons, a professional women's competition, the "Liberazione Pink", won by pillars of the two wheels pink as Letizia Paternoster and Marta Bastianelli (rainbow champion, European and Italian), who has triumphed twice in front of the public home.
The health emergency linked to Covid-19 has interrupted the organisational continuity of the event, which is nevertheless ready to resume its race among the wonders of the capital thanks to the entry of fresh forces. At the end of 2020, in fact, Team Bike Terenzi acquired the rights to the GP Liberazione from Primavera Ciclistica, putting the organisation of the 74th edition on the agenda for 25 April 2021. With its president, Claudio Terenzi, Team Bike of the same name has had notable successes on the Italian cycling scene, both in terms of competition and organisation, not least a successful third stage of the Giro d'Italia Ciclocross in Ladispoli.