I’ve been watching the Tour de France for years, first on ESPN and now on OLN/Versus, but I’ve never seen the Giro d’Italia, the first of the season’s 3 grand tours (Giro, TdF, Veulta d’Espana) that take place over 3 weeks. That will end this weekend, when Versus will start broadcasting the Giro’s first stage this coming Saturday.
I’ve been watching the Versus Cyclysm Sundays all season. It’s been really amazing to see some of the races that I first encounted back when I worked at CNN covering them. At the time, my exposure was limited to Reuters copy and pictures and the occasional video highlight feed from Europe. This season I’ve see the Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Paris Roubaix, Tour de Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Criterium International and the Tour of Romandie. It’s one thing to read about these races, but the see the hard men of the Peloton doing battle on the hilly cobblestone streets of Northern France or Belgium is simply unbelievable. I expect no less from the Giro.
This year’s Giro starts in Palermo and works is way up the Italian Peninsula and finishes in Milan three weeks later. You can see the stages on the route map. The course is very mountainous. Here’s a shot of the Passo Pordoi which features in Stage 15.
The race comes early enough in the spring that sometimes the riders hit blizzards. There’s the famous race back in 1988 which was won by Andy Hampsten, the first and only time an American has worn the Maglia Rosa at the finish(unlike the Tour de France where the race leader wears yellow, the leader at the giro wears a pink jersey). Hampsten surged through a huge snowfall over the Gavia pass and although he lost the stage to Dutchman Erik Breukink, he took the lead and never looked back.
I’ll be watching the coverage (from my DVR, of course), and I hope you will too. It should be amazing.