Why we love the Giro d’Italia: The chaos, the beauty, and the passion unmatched in cycling
From the mayhem and majesty to the cuisine and coffee – VeloNews' editors share why the Giro is unlike any other race on the calendar.
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The Giro d’Italia is unlike any race on the calendar, and it remains uniquely popular within the peloton.
Riders and staffers speak of real affection for the Giro. There’s something about the Italian backdrops, the tifosi, and the drama that unfolds during the course of three weeks that leaves an indelible mark on anyone who survives it.
The Giro can be incredibly generous and cruelly unforgiving. A rider can be on top of the world one moment, and in the instant that it takes to pop open a cork on a champagne bottle, or drift ever too close to a snowbank, and those dreams are reduced to ashes.
The Giro is special because of where it is contested and when. Italy evokes beauty of another era, yet is progressively modern as anywhere in Europe. May is an odd time to race for three weeks. As spring melts into summer, the punch of winter can return even in the depths of late May.
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It’s the people, the famed Italian tifosi, that set the Giro apart. Passionate, loyal, and raw, the Italian fans love their bike racing, and they let the peloton know with cheers, screams, signs, and applause for three weeks.
Our editorial team looks at why they love the Giro:
Jim Cotton: Madness and mayhem
Rider protests? Sure.
Stages canceled due to snow? Why not.
Polemica among the podium contenders? Of course!
The Giro d’Italia is the race of controversy, ‘WTF’s, and a beautiful twist of mayhem. Any given year could see the Giro descend into a little chaos.
Most recently, there was the rainy stage rider protest of and the hours-long delay to racing. Not so many years before that was Nairo Quintana and his eyebrow-raising attack down the neutralized Stelvio descent. And it’s almost a guarantee that any given year will see a mountain stage rerouted due to a dumping of snow across the 2,000-meter peaks.
The WorldTour is becoming increasingly inch-perfect.
From the no-stone-unturned event organization through to the power-meter-controlled racing, the men’s top-tier is a tightly controlled machine.
But the Giro retains a unique tweak of old-school unpredictability and mayhem. For me, that simmering potential for the unknown makes it the best grand tour of the year.
Sadhbh O’Shea: Bella Italia
One of the joys of grand tour racing, aside from the actual action on the road, is the ability to travel a country and see its sights without leaving the comfort of your own home.
All of the three-week races pack in some stunning vistas but the Giro d’Italia has the finest views and always leaves you with a stack of vacation ideas.
Perhaps it is helped by being somewhat smaller than the monster that is the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia slots itself into some beautiful town centers before traveling out into the stunning countryside.
All of the organizers know that the scenery is a big attraction for television viewers, but the Giro d’Italia leans into it best with its on-screen details.
Covering the Giro d’Italia for the first time last year was a chance to see some of those places in the real, and they definitely delivered.
Andrew Hood: Cycling’s purest grand tour
I love the Giro because it’s in-your-face real. In a world that’s increasingly lived vicariously through others or apps, the Giro and the chaos of Italy is a three-week rolling reminder that life is made to be lived.
The roads might be awful, the weather wholly unpredictable, and the organization might be lacking … well, organization. Yet it is out of that stew of colors, sounds, and disorder that a kernel of magic is born every May.
As a grand tour, it’s cycling’s purest. It’s not overly commercialized like the Tour de France, yet brings more gravitas than the Vuelta a España. The Giro straddles the line between spectacle and the outrageous.
The race unfolds like a three-week Fellini movie, with sumptuous sets, dramatic light, and the spirit-breaking challenges that can reduce even the most stoic superheroes on wheels to their rawest, most unguarded state.
The Giro is big without being gigantic, the race is important without being pretentious.
Add Italy, the cuisine and the coffee, and the bella vita of life on the road for three weeks, the Giro is unique to the world of sport. The Giro is more than celebrating cycling, it brings everything together of what makes bike racing so good.