History

Mar 13, 2009
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Hi all,
So far been pretty lucky fishing for info here so I'll go ahead and ask another one. I'm looking for historical information on the Giro. Seems like there's tons of info out there on the Tour but the Giro seems to suffer a bit. Anyone have some informative links to the history or important stages/climbs/riders/etc...
 
Apr 18, 2009
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The best sources for these things are usually in the native language, so in this case Italian:

http://www.bol.it/libri/ricerca

"Giro d'Italia" turns up a number of promising books.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=storia+del+giro+d'italia&btnG=Google+Search&aq=0&oq=storia+del+giro+

Also turns up a number of good links. In English... there's probably less out there, unfortunately, although for an enterprising translator, finding some good books amongst the Italian ones and doing a deal to translate and market the translated version might be an interesting proposition.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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davidw said:
The best sources for these things are usually in the native language, so in this case Italian
This is generally the problem. My Italian is non existent so might be a good idea to learn. I was just wondering on getting some history prep work in before the upcoming race.
 
Fist, I'd like to thank you for seeking out the history on this great race. To a lot of us grizzled old guys the Giro has just as much history and drama as the Tour.

Perhaps an easier place to start than reading Italian websites or finding old books is by watching a few documentary films?

You could start with one on the great Fausto Coppi. Some good insight on the Giro in that one. DVD here (coupled with a doc on Jacques Anquitil).

There's also a great DVD combo on Eddy Merckx, especially riding in the Giro. DVD here. Or watch a preview here.

There's also a good documentary from 2005 on the Giro called The Quest. Mostly following Gilberto Simoni and his team, and Mario Cippolini. DVD here.

Finally, watching old DVDs of the Giro is always great. Here's WCP's selection. Older races can be found if you dig around.
 
bikingbadger said:
Hi all,
So far been pretty lucky fishing for info here so I'll go ahead and ask another one. I'm looking for historical information on the Giro. Seems like there's tons of info out there on the Tour but the Giro seems to suffer a bit. Anyone have some informative links to the history or important stages/climbs/riders/etc...
I've lived in Italy for the past 15 years and have watched as many Giro's and have raced against a recent winner, Danillo di Luca. Historically speaking the Giro is less famous than the Tour, partly because of French marketing (and Italy's lack of ability to sell itself as the French seem to be able to do), partly because of the higher quality field in the later and, in the US, becuase for a long time only the Tour was broadcast. Secondly, and in this last regard, the greatest US cyclists (Lemond, Armstrong) have never won it (the later, till now, never even road it, whereas Lemond finished fourth in 86, the year he won his first Tour). Only Hampsten, of course, won the Giro in 88. Then there has been a sort of international cycling prejudice towards the Giro, that is for practically anyone who isn't Italian it's a merely a time "to heat up the motor between gelati" for the Tour, as recent champions such as Ullrich habitually did when using the Giro exclusively as "Tour preparation." The evolution of the UCI calander, furthermore, which in the 90's saw the Vuelta moved from April to Sept. and the Worlds from Sept. to Oct., further marginallized the Giro: because with the "longer" season leading up to the Worlds the Vuelta became a necessary prperatory stage for practically anyone hoping to do well at the Worlds. In addition, given that even the best stage racers would normally only do one or two grand tours, with the Tour being highest on the list, the second choice often has now become the Vuelta and not the Giro owing to this Worlds strategic consideration. Obviously for the Italians, the story is quite different. It's their national event and their best stage races would love to win it even more than the Tour. Perhaps this has also compromised their Tour success. Coppi and Bartoli, Gimondi and Moser leading to Bugno and Pantani, these have been the darlings of Italian cycling, who have scored famous Giro wins, and who among the greatest legends of the sport. But the Giro has also seen the likes of Merckx, Hinault, Fignon and Indurain arrive in pink at Milano at the end of the race. Whereas I believe only Coppi, Gimondi, Mreckx, Hinault, Indurian and Pantani are the only cyclists in the history of the sport to have won both the Giro and the Tour in the same year.

Styllistically, as is well known, the Italians favor the steep, high mountain passes in the Alps and the mythical Dolomites (Stelvio, Gavia, Passo Pordoi, Mortirolo, etc.) over the long "races of truth," which one also sees in the French event. Partly because the Italians have a romantc relationship with uphill cycling and the famous scalatori ("climbers"), where Marco Pantani became the most tangible recent expression of it - a storyline fit for the best XIX century novels of Alexandre Dumas - which is directly conected to their national identity as Europe's proverbial underdog, like David and Golaith, set against a backdrop of passion, granduer and emotional beauty that verges on the sublime. This in contrast to the big gear pusher specialists who, with brute strength, push speeds upward to 50 kph in the long flat time trials. The Giro this tends to favor the climbers and place decidedly less emphasis on the time trialists (except, though, when they "catered" the course to suit Moser's characteristics - who was not an exceptional climber - in the 80's, which certainly didn't do any honor to the event).

Each grand tour is, of course, also an expression of the national topography. In Italy there simply isn't much flat terrain, apart frm the Po Valley and a few other select regions. Driving throughout the country one is aware of this. There is always some right hand turn in the road, a left bend to change the scenery, something to climb and something to descend. For this reason, like the variegated dialects of the Italian language (if someone from hinterland Sicilia goes to Piemonte, for example, and talks to a local, the local actually doesn't understand what he said), one always must "interpret" the race correctly to not get left behind. By the way regional Italian cookery works the same way, so that if one were to eat in a local roman trattoria, and then in a venetian one, and then at say il Latini in Firenze, it would be like having taken a trip from the Sahara to the russian steppe and from Cinna to Timbuctu. And for the same reason the Giro arguably offers much more interesting par cours than the Tour, the later usually begining with ten flat, uninteresting form a technical point of view races in the north of France, where nothing happens except the predictable long attempt before the final sprint, until the first significant hills are even spotted.

One unfortunate choice, however, by the race organization, has been to since the 70's have the race always finish in Milano. If Italy wants to give the world a better image of itself through it's national grand Tour, than the race should finish in il capitale, that is Rome. Not even the famous avenues and Arc d'Triomphe of the French capital could compete with the historical backdrop (Appia Antica, Colosseum, Forum, Arch of Constantine, Palatine ruins, Piazza and Basilica di San Pietro, etc. ) and Mediterranean beauty of Roma.

As far as more information goes, I'd check the web. For the experience, buy a ticket for Rome to be here on May 31. When the Giro arrives in what will be a time trial (ironically) through the streets of centro storico of incredible fascination and appeal. ;)
 
Great post Rhumbroma. Agree with all you said, though I've never seen the Giro up close (nor ridden against Diluca!).

Stephen Roche pulled off the Giro-Tour double in 1987. He also won the World's that year.

I also believe the Vuelta should be moved back to April-May, and the Giro to May-June. It crowds the calendar, but right now the season tends to end with the Tour, take a break, and then training (at the Vuelta) starts for the World's. Spain is also much prettier in the spring (green, snow) than the fall (brown, fog). No one rides a full calendar anymore anyway, so it's not like a lot of riders who ride the Tour of Romandie will ride the Vuelta as well.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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If you want to read a true gem, find a translation of Dino Buzzati's masterpiece about the Giro of 1949.

He was a famous Italian writer/journalist who never did a sports-story before he was asked to cover the Giro by his newspaper. Later they bundled his articles into a book.

I think i can say i've build up a nice collection of cycling books over the years and this one still stands out as one of the best.


//found a passage on google:

The Fable of the Bicycle Will Never Fade Away

And next year, the start will once again take place, and yet again the year after, from spring to spring...Until (but will we still be living?) reasonable people will say that it's absurd to continue; in those times bicycles will have become rare, almost comical junk, used by a few nostalgic maniacs, and voices will be raised, saying that it's time to put the Giro to rest.

No, don't give up, bicycle. At a cost of appearing ridiculous, set sail once again on a fresh May morning, off along the ancient byways of Italy. We will travel for the most part by rocket train then; atomic energy will save us even a minimum effort; we will be very powerful and civilized. Pay us no mind, bicycle. Fly, with your little energies, among mountains and valleys, sweat, toil, and suffer. The woodcutter will still descend from his isolated mountain hut to cry "Evviva!," fishermen will come up from the beach, clerks will abandon their ledgers, the blacksmith will let his flame die out to come to celebrate you, the poets, the dreamers, the creatures humble and good will still line the roadsides, forgetting, to your merit, their troubles and hardships.

And maidens will cover you with flowers.

Dino Buzzati, Corriere della Sera, June 14, 1949



ps.

kudos to rhubroma.
people like you keep forums like this alive.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
Great post Rhumbroma. Agree with all you said, though I've never seen the Giro up close (nor ridden against Diluca!).

Just for the record, it was in 2003. At a Granfondo in Abruzzo during the Tour. DiLuca and the Saeco boys not in the Tour participated, as well as Domina Vacanza. There were something like 500 participants at the start. 186 k, not a flat spot on the course, the last 8 k took you to the finish on Blockhaus (a climb in the Giro this year). DiLuca, naturally, won. I finished 18th. Beat some pros. Not that it matters, but hey, at a certain point when the lead group went up the road and I made the split (before getting droped later by the top 6, 8 finishers), di Luca had to bridge up to our group. If I can't tell that cycling story to my grandkids, then what the hell did I kill myself in that race for! :D
 

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