History and the Tradition of Giro d'Italia

After successes that France had with its premiere bicycle road race Tour de France, Italy started preparing their own event of similar size. With cycling sports of all types being popular in that country from the early days of bicycle history, Italian sporting newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport managed to secure the funds for the first large multi-staged event that would be driven across entire Italia and last for more than 20 days. The first of such events started on 13 May 1909 at Loreto Place in Milan. From there, 127 drivers competed in eight large stages that in total covered 2,448 kilometers. By the end, only 49 riders managed to finish the race, with Italian cyclist Luigi Ganna securing the victory and 5,325 lira or prize money. During the period before WW1, Giro d'Italia had several changes to its rule set, leading to the adoption of the time-based system in which overall winner was determined by the lowest aggregate time at the end of the race.

After World War I, famous Italian cyclist Alfredo Binda became extreme successful on Giro d'Italia, winning 5 times between 1925 and 1933. He was in fact so successful, that organizers of the race offered him payment to not drive because he was starting to make the race look boring. Eventually he was surpassed by Gino Bartali, who found very tough competition by his team mate Fausto Coppi (who in 1952 became first cyclist to win both Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in the same year). Most successful drivers in the 60s were Jacques Anquetil (two wins in 1960 and 1964) and Franco Balmamion (1962, 1963), in the 70s there were famous Eddy Merckx (1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974), Michel Pollentier and Johan De Muynck.

As years and decades went by, Giro d'Italia became more and more popular and firmly established as one of the three “Grand Tours”. In the modern version of the race, Giro d'Italia’s winner is still derermined by the lowest aggregate timings, while specific stages can have their own point or time-based competitions (Mountains classification, Points classification, Team classifications…). As other grand tours, Giro d'Italia features stages with mass starts, individual time trials, team time trials and stage towns.

According to the tradition of Giro d'Italia, the finish of each race was almost always staged in Milan, although in few races finished in Rome and Verona. Starting point is much loose, enabling neighboring countries to hold such prestigious events. Between 1965 and 2014, starting line of Giro d'Italia was hosted in cities such as San Marino, Monte Carlo, Athens, Nice, Amsterdam, Belfast, Vatican City and others.