The Vigorelli velodrome is easy to find. Travel northwest from Milan’s imposing cathedral, around the Arco della Pace, up Corso Sempione and right on to the Via Arona. Signs point to the ring road, the centre and the former fairgrounds but a few of them – black lettering on a white background – still read Vigorelli.

The building sits between a CO-OP supermarket, a subway construction site and the former Alfa Romeo factory. Its drab grey and cream coloured walls give little away of it’s glorius history, and the most ardent cycling historian could walk Via Arona and easily miss this important piece of Italian cycling history.

“The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Clash all played here. Then you have the Giro d’Italia visits. The Tour of Lombardy, too,” says Marco Pastonesi, a writer for La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Leaving that aside, this is the place where Fausto Coppi set his hour record in 1942.”

Despite its past, this 397-metre wooden track balances on a knife-edge between destruction and renovation.

On October 28, 1935, the Italian sports paper sponsored the opening of Giuseppe Vigorelli’s velodrome. In the intervening 78 years, its fortunes have fluctuated as wildly as the Italian economy.

Seven years after it opened, bombs rattled its foundations. Like the rest of Europe, Italy was at war. Under Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime, Italy declared war on France, Great Britain and the USA.

In 1942, the Allied forces increased its bombing raids in Italy and on October 24, at 17:57, alarms rang throughout Milan. Lancaster bombers roared above and four minutes later, the British Royal Air Force dropped their bombs.

171 people were killed, the Bianchi bike and Caproni aircraft factories were both hit but while they targeted the massive white, multi-spired Gothic cathedral in the city centre it somehow survived, as did Vigorelli.


The future of the Vigorelli velodrome is unclear, despite the funding being in place


The facilitiy is currently used as a venue for American football as the track lies in disrepair


Masi bikes are still made in the shop underneath the velodrome


What was once the fastest track in the world is now looking a little sorry for itself


Marino Vigna has happy memories of the Vigorelli track

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  • Marvin Smart

    Like the old 500m track in the olympic Stadium in Amsterdam i think it should be demolished. Who wants a 400m cycle track nowaday’s. Quite, no one. People shouldn’t getnlocked in nostalgia, use the stadium for what people want, it’s not the Coleseum after all. It’ a velodrome where great nemes of the past doped themselves up to the eyeballs and set world records.
    Times have changed and there’s not a track cycling event worth watching on a track longer than 250 metres. The 300m tracks just don’t justify themselves economicaly or spectator wise especially an indoor track.
    Don’t forget the past but don’t live in the past ( like a lotnof old cyclists do)
    The Vigorelii’s glory day’s will never return so use the site for what people want. It would be nice to see a 250m indoor track called Vigorelli which would attract world class events and probably cheaper than renovating a white elephant.