09 May 2015

Il Giro Inizia Oggi

Probably the one race everyone's heard of is the Tour de France.  It's one of the oldest and most-promoted multi-day stage races and winning--or even competing in--it is regarded as one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports.

Today, this year's edition of what is probably the second-best known race--The Giro d'Italia--begins in the Riviera city of San Lorenzo with a Team Time Trial that will end in San Remo.  Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 and 2009 Tours, is an early favorite to win the Giro.  So is Tasmanian cyclist Richie Porte.

Giro d'Italia 2015 starts today on stunning Italian Riviera

Contador says he is not motivated by the Tour alone--a marked contrast to other cyclists, including, ahem, a certain American--but wants to accomplish something last accompllished by Marco Pantani in 1998:  win both the Giro and the Tour.  He is motivated in part, he claims, by the crash that probably cost him a chance at winning last year's Tour.

Winning both races no mean feat because, like the Tour, the Giro encompasses three weeks of near-daily cycling over widely varying terrain in a number of different riding disciplines:  individual time trials, team time trials, sprints and long road stages, some up and down mountains.  As long as he doesn't crash again or have some other sort of bad luck, he'll complete the Giro and have about a month to recuperate before starting the Tour.  (Of course, "recuperating" for racers at such a high level involves riding more miles than most of us do on our "big ride" days!)  At the starting line in Utrecht on 4 July, he'll be up against cyclists--including some of his own teammates--who haven't ridden the Giro will therefore be fresher.

Contador sandwiched a 2008 Giro win between his Tour victories.  In that same year, he won the Vuelta a Espana--commonly considered the third great stage race of cycling--and reprised those victories in 2012 and 2014.  To date, no one has won all three races in the same year, though several of the sport's greats--including Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Mercx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain--won two of the three in the same year.  

To state the obvious, if he takes both la maglia rosa and  le maillot jaune this year obvious, Contador  will be in elite company!

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