What Was the Date of the Epiphany?

The date of one of cycling's greatest events--Tullio Campagnolo's epiphany atop the Croce d'Aune Pass, when he is famously reputed to have conceived the quick release lever--should be known, one would think, with certainty.

However, fans of Campagnolo history know that there is come confusion about the year, if not the date, in which Tullio found himself unable to remove his rear wheel due to the wing nuts haven frozen shut.  Official information from Campagnolo (as well as a number of internet sites) list the date variously as November 4, 1924, and November 4, 1927.  

Here is what we know:

  • The official biography of Tullio Campagnolo, "The Giant and the File," very specifically lists the date as November 4, 1924.  The book's account of that fateful day begins, "The race began in Padova on the morning of November 4, 1924."  On page 25, the book captions a photo of Campagnolo on that day with "4.11.1924," the European-style format for November 4, 1924.
  • Numerous other official Campagnolo sources, beginning (in our records) with Catalog 17 in 1974, show the year as 1927.  The official Campagnolo web site shows the same 1927 date, (see http://www.campagnolo.com/history.php)  That web site, however, describes Tullio's presence as a rising star in Italian cycling in the "early 1920s."  (It is interesting to note that Giant and the File was published more than ten years after Catalog 17, and was penned by one of Italy's most famous sports journalists--a man who could be trusted to get a date right.)
  • November 4, 1924, was a Tuesday.  The same date in 1927 was a Friday.
  • In November 1924, Tullio Campagnolo was 23 years old; he was 26 in 1927.
  • A Google search (on 6/1/2004) comes up with 70 hits for the 1927 date, 50 for the 1924 date.

So ... Which date is correct?  Until we are convinced otherwise, Campy Only will use the 1924 date.  Research continues ...

Update June 2014 -- Jan Heine at Bicycle Quarterly has researched this subject in depth for an article on Tullio in the current edition of the magazine. We'll hopefully have those results posted here soon.