The Giro d’Italia has a fine history behind it, like the Tour de France it was started to publicise a newspaper, just like the Tour de France the organisers made the leaders jersey the same colour as the paper, yellow in France from the L’Auto newspaper and pink in Italy from the La Gazzetta dello Sport. The first Giro was in 1909 and was 2448 kilometres long (the shortest), split into 8 stages and was won by the Italian rider Luigi Ganna, 127 riders started in Milan, but by the finish, also in Milan, there was only 49 left, this was not the worst edition, in 1914 only 8 out of the 81 starters managed the full distance.
Just like the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia always has a deserving winner, three riders have won it five times, Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi of Italy and the great Belgian, Eddy Merckx, Merckx of course also won the Tour de France five times and the Vuelta once. There have been many other “stars” who have won the Giro over the years, French heroes Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault and from Spain Miguel Indurain have all one 5 Tours de France and the Giro more than once. The home riders have obviously been the big winners, Felice Gimondi, Gino Bartoli, Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni and Paolo Savoldelli have all shown there winning ways, but the battles between Giuseppe Saronni and Francesco Moser in the 80’s are epic. The strangest rider to have taken part in the Giro d’Italia would be Alfonsina Morini Strada who is the only woman to have ridden the race, and finish!
The race itself.
The Giro has started outside of Italy on eight occasions, the furthest away being either Belgium, Greece or possibly the Dutch town of Groningen, which hosted the opening individual time trial in 2002. When the race is on Italian soil the main difficulties are usually the Alps, Dolomites and the Apennines, the Giro is in May so the big climbs can get dreadful weather, snow, rain and cold temperatures can shape the race and determine the winner.
The future of the Giro d’Italia.
The future of the Giro d’Italia looks good, since the UCI (cycling’s governing body) brought in the Pro-Tour all the top 20 teams have to ride the race, before they would only get all the Italian teams and a few foreign teams with sponsor interests in Italy, now the race is also shown free on television, where as before it could only be seen on a private station. The 2005 edition was one of the best for years, top teams, top riders and a hard course brought the race to life, for years the Giro had become a procession until the last hour, then the sprinters took over. The climbers had some good hard stages and the team leaders would do there work for the overall on the hills or the time trial, and that was it, now its one of the most exciting stage races there is from begging to end.