Uniwerk, Italy, ca.1965
This game is a personal favorite, though I guess it wouldn't be for most people. There are at least three different editions; two almost identical big boxes and a third, much smaller box, which you can see on a different page of this website. As far as I know, the only difference between the big boxes is that one of them (the one featured here) has the names of 12 Italian riders featured on it.
These cyclists (anticlockwise) are: Marcello Mugnaini, Franco Balmanion, Vittorio Adorni, Italo ZiIlioli, Giacomo Fornoni, Franco Cribiori, Imerio Massignan, Franco Bitossi, Sergio Bianchetto, Felice Gimondi, Antonio Bailetti and Vito Taccone. This allows us to date the game with some accuracy. All these riders were in their prime in the mid-sixties. Felice Gimondi, for instance, did not turn pro until 1965 (although he had some interesting results as an amateur the couple of years before, winning the Tour de l'Avenir in 1964).
On the other hand, although none of these riders retired before 1968 (and some much later; Franco Bitossi remained a pro until 1978), a few of them did not have any significant results in their careers after the mid-sixties (check Imerio Massignan, for instance).
So, although this cannot be an exact science, I would say this game was made in or shortly after 1965.
However, the fact that there is a version of this game without the riders' names is puzzling. I would rule out copyright issues (we are talking about the sixties, nobody cared about image rights back then, and much less in Italy). My first guess is that the nameless version is a reissue and that the names were removed because some of the riders were no longer famous. But this guess has a problem since it implies that the small box, of which I have never seen a version with the names on it, would also have been issued later. Though it is possible, it sounds kind of counterintuitive to me. So, unless I find more information, the doubt will remain.
The game itself is quite unusual. It used to be on my favourite games list because I like it despite all its weaknesses. It is not on that anymore, but it is a sure feature on the different games list (and most "different" games are also my favourites, just for being different). By the way, I have said almost the same about this other game, the description of which I have also rewritten this month.
The actual play is absurdly simple (silly, some would say) and absolutely dependent on luck. Basically, it could be described as "draw one card, and if it is your rider, you win." Of course, this is not how you play the game. The important part of this game is the set-up and the ambiance, which builds up some tension during the game play (well, at least it is supposed to)
By the way, the game can be played solo, though it is not stated in the rules, and I am not sure if it is worth the trouble.
You need a big surface to place all the beautiful elements, including banners, the public, money (for the prices), etc.
Most road cards have a rider underneath. Each of the twelve different riders appears under four different cards. There are a few "blank" cards (both sides identical, no rider underneath) to provide some uncertainty to the game. The turns are also "blank", although they do not provide uncertainty. The "blank" cards also account for time differences between the riders in the overall classification. I would suggest that leaving a couple of cards out of the game would be better if what you want is to provide uncertainty.
Each player manages one or more riders. The small cards above are used to remind the players which are their riders.
There are some minor prices during the race: a mountain price and an intermediate sprint, but the most important thing is to be the final winner.
And there is money price.
When the game is set up (as you can see, we even have two 3D tiers with public that are to be placed near the finish line), the road cards are turned one by one, starting from the one that is further away from the finish line. When one rider shows up, it has less chances to be the one under the finish line, so in a way this rider loses some strength. When the last card is turned, the rider underneath that card is the winner of the game.
In the picture above, rider n? 12 has won the "Gran Premio de la Montagna" (king of the mountains).
But the final winner is rider n? 10!
Notice that the mountain part in the example is 3D ;-)
Separate rules for adults
This is the big box without the cyclists' names, from Fran?ois Cardinet collection.
As you can see, the riders are still pictured on the box, though they are not identified.
Description rewritten in August 2022.