The city on the marque, St. Etienne

The city indicated on the head-badge is still a bit of a mystery. For a time, St. Etienne was the capitol of the French bicycle industry and has been home to Motobecane and Vitus, and is still home to Mavic. Interestingly, St. Etienne was also the home of Paul de Vivie, aka “Velocio.” Perhaps the most influential individual in French cycling, his wisdom is still sought today!

A Cicles Lygie timeline of sorts

Information available on the history of this marque is a little hard to come by. There is very little to be found on the interwebs on a cursory search. I found my best clues searching eBay Italia for memorabilia which revealed several racers who rode for Lygie. I then searched for some history on those riders to find additional results.

The Lygie marque was founded by Alfredo Sironi in Milan around 1905. These early bikes were built with French components, which at the time were considered to be among the best available. After just a few years in business however, in 1908, Alfredo sold Lygie to Ernesto Rolando from Pavia (just outside of Milan), where he produced bicycles until 1932. There appear to be very few surviving examples of Lygie bikes from this period which begs the question of just how successful Lygie had been under the guidance of Ernesto. Then in 1932, he sold the marque to Cesare Rizzato of Padova. Rizzato had considerably more success over the years and also manufactured other marques such Atala. The end for Lygie came in the mid-1970’s with the end of the bike boom. The end for Rizzato began in October 2000 when they stopped producing frames in Italy. They continued for another couple of years with Asian made frames and then re-organized in 2002. The year 2000 marked a sad turning point for the end of mass produced quality steel Italian bicycle frames.

Lygie began their racing presence in 1909 though there is little evidence of accomplishment. In 1922 however Lygie was all in for the Giro and fielded a team of 17 riders. Ottavio Pratesi rode for Team Lygie in the 1923 Giro d’Italia and marked the beginning of Lygie’s earning real results professional racing. Even though they sponsored teams in the 30’s and 40’s, Lygie’s heyday seemed to be in the 1950’s and 60’s when they had talented riders who got impressive results. In 1946 Lygie co-sponsored a Giro team with Atala. It would be easy to infer that there was some co-operative effort between these two manufacturers but the reality may be simply that post war economics required this partnership to field a cycling team. Though it appears that Atala and Lygie had cooperated on several occasions over the years.

It is a little known fact that Giovanni Pinarello (yes, Mr. Pinarello) raced for Lygie when he first turned professional in 1947. He won 9 races for his team before retiring in 1953.

Here are some other highlight results from Team Lygie

The spotty history of racing results for Lygie is not that unusual for this time period. Many well known manufacturers only fielded teams periodically. The ebb and flow of participation and success seems typical for many teams, even today.

1909

  • A Lygie built bicycle participates in the first Giro d’Italia with no recorded result.

1922

  • Lygie / Bergougnan & Tedeschi (a tire manufacturer) fields a team of 17 riders for competition. No recorded results are available.
  • Domenico Shierano rode a Lygie bicycle in the Giro d’Italia as an independent, placing fifth in the GC.

1923

  • Ottavio Pratesi joins Team Lygie, earns 12th in the GC at the Four de France.

1924

  • Ottavio Pratesi finishes ninth overall in the Giro d’Italia

1938

  • Giordano Cottur wins stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia and second in the green jersey competition.
  • Mario Vicini wins the Giro di Toscana for Team Lygie-Settebello.

1939

  • Mario Vicini places third overall in the Giro d’Italia.
  • Giordano Cottur wins stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia and seventh overall.
  • Team Lygie places fourth overall in the Giro team classification.
  • Mario Vicini wins the Giro del Lazio.

1940

  • Giordano Cottur wins third overall in the Giro d’Italia.

1941

  • Antonia Bevilacqua turns professional with Team Lygie

1947

  • Antonia Bevilacqua wins stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia and world pursuit championship.
  • Team Lygie places fifth overall in the Giro team classification.
  • Italo De Zan places third in the Giro di Lombardia. Michelle Motta and Salvatore Crippa also place well.
  • Michelle Motta wins the Giro del Lazio
  • Italo De Zan wins Milan-Torino for Team Lygie-Pirelli

1951

  • Arrigo Padovan wins the Gp Industrae Commercio in Prato

1952

  • Marino Morretini wins gold and silver medals in individual and team pursuit at the Helsinki Olympic games.
  • Enzo Sacchi wins gold in track, sprint in Helsinki.

1954

  • Lygie-Torpado forms a cooperative team for some lesser races in 1954.
  • Arrigo Padovan places second in the Giro del Lazio in Rome.

1955

  • Loretto Petrucci wins the Giro del Lazio.
  • Enzo Sacchi becomes Italian National Champion in Sprint

1956

  • Leandro Faggin wins gold in both individual and team pursuit at the Melbourne Olympics on a Lygie bicycle.

1958

  • Antonio Maspes wins an international Time Trial event on a Lygie Bicycle.

1959

  • Vito Favero wins stage 18 in the Giro d’Italia with Atala-Pirelli-Lygie.
  • Atala-Pirelli-Lygie wins the team classification in the Giro d’Italia.

1963

  • Vito Taccone wins 5 stages of the Giro d’Italia and the green jersey along with a 6th place overall.
  • Team Lygie places second overall in the Giro team classification.
  • Vito Taccone wins the Giro di Toscana.

1964

  • Marcello Mugnaini with stage 8 and seventh overall in the Giro d’Italia
  • Aldo Moser and Enzo Moser tie for fifth in the green jersey competition in the Giro.
  • Enzo Moser wears the Maglia Rosa for two days in the Giro.

A little history of the Lygie racers

$_57e

Lygie teams up with pneumatic tire manufacturer Bergougnan & Tedeschi and fields a huge team of 17 riders as shown in this announcement.

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Marino Morretini was an Italian Olympic medalist who won the silver medal in the 1000 meter time trial, and a gold medal in the 4000 meter team pursuit at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics. He turned professional in 1954 and rode for Lygie on and off until perhaps 1963.

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$_57This ad reads:  Antonio Maspes, brilliantly he won the international meeting of speed on bicycles Lygie. August 24, 1958.

Authorized workshops in Padova.

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$_58Or this:  Leandro Faggin, after beating the record in evidence over the classic distance of 5 km, in a time of 6 min, 6 and 2/5 seconds with an average speed of 49.127 km per hour.

and ‘re-elected Italian Champion of chase professionals in a time of 6 min, and 5 seconds with a speed of 49.315 km per hour.

on bicycles Lygie.

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$(KGrHqZHJBQFDs8-(ENdBR!rC0cDCg~~60_57

.Finally:

From prehistory, to the first Giro d’Italia in 1909,

to the present day, 1963,

The progress bicycle is called Atala, Lygie, authorized.

The three riders on a bike in the upper corner of the advertisement are characterized as the “three musketeers”, Ganna, Pavesi and Galetti. These three rode for Atala in the 1909 Giro d’Italia. The rider of the bike in the 1963 Lygie inset appears to be Enzo Moser.

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EnzoEnzo Moser (Francesco’s older brother) raced for Team Lygie at the Giro in 1963-64. He did have a podium result in the 1963 Giro but did not place in 1964.

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aldo1

Younger brother Aldo also raced for Lygie for a time. This pic is from the 1964 Squad.

After 1964 there is little evidence that Lygie sponsored any teams though their bikes were still used in competition for some time.

For several galleries of images of Lygie bicycles etc. go to the Lygie Barn.

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