A 60 Second Guide To: The Giro d’Italia
Friday, 3rd May 2013
The Giro d’Italia or the Tour of Italy is one of the greatest cycling races in the world; along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España it forms part of the Triple Crown of Cycling.
Created in 1909, the race was originally designed to boost circulation of the Italian sports newspaper ‘La Gazetto dello Sport’ – to this day the winner wears a pink jersey (Maglia Rosa) to represent the colour of the founding newspaper.
Easy to romanticise by onlookers, the gruelling 21 stage race unravels across a backdrop of glorious Italian landscapes, taking in many of the momentous Dolomite mountain climbs and those of neighbouring countries. Spanning approximately 3500 kilometres, the intensity of the race is enhanced by its unfortunate end date. Riders completing the Giro are expected just one month later to begin the punishing Le Tour de France – this overwhelming prospect often results in a decision to target winning one race and forgoing the other. Riders that complete both races successfully are given extra kudos. Riders that win both races within their careers become heroes. And those that champion both races in the same season, they become legends.
Although the start, the route and the finish point vary from year to year the race is always made up of the same components – Sprint Stages, Mountain Stages and Time Trials. The different stages play out in different ways, with riders excelling in one particular area; it is unusual for a rider to excel in every type of stage and this is why strategy becomes imperative to success.
This year 23 teams made up of 207 international riders will enter the race. Before and during the race each team will work together and decide who has the best chance of winning, the team must then dedicate themselves to helping their leader win.
There are various jerseys to be won throughout the race, the most coveted being the Maglia Rosa - which goes to the stage winner. Following on from the stage winners jersey is the Maglia Rosso Passione, whose name arguably loses some of its charm when translated into English - the red passion knit - this goes to the rider with the highest points overall; points are awarded to riders according to their ranking in each stage. Then there is Maglia Azzura, which goes to the best climber classification and the Maglia Bianca for bright young things (the best young rider).
The overall winner of the race is the competitor with the lowest cumulative time to complete all stages. Coverage of the event usually focuses around a few firm favourites and the battles between arch-rivals can make compelling viewing. Perhaps one of the most famous Giros of all was in 1949, when Italian national heroes Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali pitted against each other for three long weeks across post-war Italy. Coppi took the title then followed it up with a Le Tour win, earning him the nickname the Il Campionissimo – the champion of champions. Strong contenders for this years giro title include 2012 Tour de France winner, Olympic cycling champion and Fred Perry collaborator Bradley Wiggins.
See the latest Fred Perry and Bradley Wiggins Collection here.