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The Giro d’Italia: Real Men Wear Pink!

The Giro d’Italia: Real Men Wear Pink!
May 17, 2013/in Blog/by admin

THE GIRO d'ITALIA bike race is on now, so here's some handy info to get you up to speed...

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The Giro (“giro” = turn or tour) was first run in 1909, 6 years after the first Tour de France bike race. Like the Tour, which was sponsored by a sports newspaper (“L’Auto,” printed on yellow paper), the Giro was sponsored by “La Gazzetta dello Sport,” which is printed on pink paper.  For this reason, the overall leader’s jersey is yellow in the Tour de France while the Giro’s leader wears pink (“la maglia rosa”). The leader often has a special kit made up that’s ALL pink, including the bike! The Giro is part of the “Triple Crown of Cycling,” with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. They are held two-months apart to give the riders time to recover should they bike in more than one -- which many do NOT since they are so draining.  During Lance Armstrong’s 7-year winning streak in the Tour de France, for example, he didn’t bike in a single Giro or Vuelta, earning him some derision from those who believe that a true champion must win all three races (Lance eventually DID ride in a Giro, after his “comeback” in 2009, and didn’t do too well).  The Giro is always held in May, the Tour in July, and the Vuelta in September, and they all last three weeks. e6dcba002e

Jerseys:  There is a daily winner (he who crosses the finish line first), as well as daily points issued to “best sprinter,” “best hill-climber,” and “best young rider.” The overall winner is determined by his TOTAL TIME throughout the 3 weeks. He doesn’t even need to win a daily “stage” as long as his total time beats everyone else. The current leader rides with a pink jersey on during the race so people can easily identify him!   Teams: bike races usually involve teams, so the “captain” can be guided and protected by his “lieutenants.” They will bike ahead of him to let him draft behind them (you can save 40-80% of your energy doing this!), or go get water or food from the team car. This might seem like favoritism, but the team leader must prove his worth on demanding mountain stages when he is forced to break away from the pack and go head-to-head with other team leaders. He must also ride alone during the Time Trial.

 

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King of the Time Trial: the Swiss Fabian Cancellara

Time Trial:  There are usually two individual Time Trials (TT’s) during these stage races, and this is when the team leader really shows what he’s got. Many races have been won or lost by a time trial, since the total time is often within only a few minutes between the top ten leaders.

Great Names in Giro History:  Three cyclists have managed to win the Giro five times each: Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi (“Il Campionissimo” - the Great Champion), and the Belgian Eddie Merckx (“the Cannibal”). 

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Vincenzo Nibali, "The Shark" 

Current standings 2013:  Things are starting to get interesting in this year’s Giro, as two of the main contenders just dropped out this morning!  Bradley Wiggins, the winner of last year’s Tour de France and Olympic Gold (and famous for his groovy side-burns) got sick in the bad weather, and Ryder Hesjedal, last year’s Giro winner (and first Canadian to take the title) was 30 minutes down in the standings.  The current leader and most likely candidate is now the Italian Vincenzo Nibali (“lo squalo dello Stretto” = the Shark from the Straits [of Messina]), a young rider from Sicily who won the Vuelta in 2010, and Cadel Evans, the Australian who won the Tour de France in 2011.  

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Cycling is serious business in Italy, and this year they even had the Pope bless the pink jersey. Now we'll see which side God is on!

The pope blesses the pink jersey

Pope Francesco I blesses the Pink Jersey  

Remember, it’s not just a bike race, it’s a metaphor for life.  The “Gazetta dello Sport” puts it this way:

“Cycling is faith. And life, like the Giro, is a journey.”

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How to follow the Giro d'Italia:  some countries show the daily stages on t.v., but you may have to follow it online. See this site for suggestions on streaming it live, via video, audio, or just an information "ticker":  www.cyclingfans.com The "Gazzetta dello Sport" has a whole page dedicated to coverage: www.gazzetta.it/Giroditalia/2013/en/ Of course, we also organize "Follow the Giro" tours, so get up a group and come see the race LIVE! 

Cheering the Giro

They're just about to enter the final week, with grueling mountain stages ahead -- and they're calling for SNOW!  Get in on the excitement of what many consider the greatest bike race in the world.

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