Italy’s most prestigious road bicycle race, the Giro d’Italia is set to begin in just a few days: on May 11, the 102nd edition of the Giro, one of cycling's Grand Tour races, kicks off from Bologna, and will see the top racers from around the world compete along Italy’s roads, from north to south, until it ends in Verona on June 2.
First organised in 1909 to promote the newspaper ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’, the Giro gained prominence and is now one of the world’s largest sporting events, with 12.5 million live spectators over the three weeks of the event. Along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia makes up cycling's prestigious three-week-long Grand Tours. The route changes each year, while the format of the race stays the same: 21 day-long stages over a 23-day period that includes 2 rest days. At the end of each stage, the riders' times are compounded with their previous stage times. The rider with the lowest aggregate time is the leader of the race and gets to wear the much coveted pink jersey (maglia rosa).
Day stages can be more than 200 km long – the average this year is 170 km. The Giro d'Italia is known for its steep and difficult climbs. In its final stages, the race traditionally passes through the Alps and the Dolomites. Some of the most famous mountain climbs include Passo dello Stelvio, Passo Pordoi, and Passo di Gavia. Since 1965, the highest peak in the Giro d'Italia has been dubbed the Cima Coppi, in honor of Italy’s great race cyclist Fausto Coppi, who won the Giro five times. The most recent Italian winner is Vincenzo Nibali, who won in 2013 and 2016 and is racing again this year.
Italy has many road cycling aficionados, so the Giro is followed with much enthusiasm.