The Giro d'Italia

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 1 May 2019

The Giro d'Italia is a multiple-stage bicycle race held each year in Italy. Along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, the Giro forms a key element of the cycling world's Grand Tours. It is usually held during late May and early June and we often come across the race on our walking tours which happen at this time of year.

While the route changes each year the format stays the same, with at least two time trials and passages through the mountains of the Alps and Dolomites. The race is normally made up of 21 day-long segments over a 23-day period, with two rest days included. 

The first race was staged in 1909 and was organised by the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. As this was (and still is) printed on pink newspaper the colour became associated with the race and in 1931 the first pink jersey was introduced, worn each day by the leading cyclist. Each stage is timed to the finish, scores are added to previous stage results and the rider with the lowest aggregate time leads the race and gets to don the coveted "maglia rosa".

In 2019 the Giro starts in Bologna on May 11th and finishes in Verona on June 2nd.  Cities vie to be the start or finish location for the race because it brings large scale attention to the area and delivers huge economic benefits too. In recent years, the Giro has crossed borders of nearby countries and some of the starting points have been cities such as Amsterdam, Belfast and even Jerusalem in 2018.  2020 will see the race kick off in Budapest. 

Hikers on our new Mountains of Piedmont tour will have the chance to see the Colle delle Finestre which often features on the Giro d'Italia, although not this year. At 2178 m above sea level this is a mountain pass in the Cottian Alps linking the Susa Valley and Val Chisone. The road was built in the early 1700s to gain access to the fortresses in the area and, with its 55 hairpin bends, has become a tourist attraction in its own right.

The Giro Rosa, which is the elite women's cycling event in Italy, takes place in the early part of July and has ten stages.

The Giro d'Italia and the Giro Rosa have their own websites, with English versions, and particularly helpful is the route planner which gives detailed day by day information on each of the different stages.