It’s October now and we’re finally back on track with the years cycling calendar. What a strange year it’s been. With the worst of the coronavirus pandemic behind us (we certainly hope), things can carry on, if not as usual, then as close to as usual as we can, for the time being. August and September kicked this year’s Grand Tours back off again with the Tour de France – a roaring success, by all accounts, as thrilling, varied and beautiful as ever. Now, barely a fortnight later, we continue with the Giro d’Italia – the true darling of the cycling world.
While the Tour de France carries all the fame and a lot of the prestige in the mind of the more casually interested cycling fan, or the non-fan, for that matter, the Giro d’Italia holds a spot in the hearts of the committed, worldwide. Why? It’s run almost as long – this will be the 103rd edition, while the Tour de France has just seen its 107th completed. In the opinion of many, the Giro is harder. Many of the stages run longer, climb higher and are, very often, significantly colder than those of the Tour de France. Only one stage of this years Tour cracked the 200-kilometre boundary. The Giro will do so on seven occasions. It’s a long grind.
One of the main things people associate with the Tour de France is the eye-catching beauty that sails past as the riders claw their way up mountains, zip down descents and pile-up on the floor in crowded town centres. Now we’re in Italy and things are no different. Beginning in the Isle of Sicily, we travel along the coast and up through the centre of the island, finishing stage three at the top of the towering Mount Etna, before crossing over to the mainland. Stages five, six and seven take us from “toe to heel” as it were, completing the first week. The next seven stages take us up the “calf” of the country, along the East coast, all the way up North, to the Italian mountains, where the majority of the final week plays out, dipping back into France, before the final time trial on the way into Milan.
The tagline for this year’s race is “Amore Infinito”, which translates to “Endless Love,” and you’ll feel that and more as we follow the riders, making our way through the beautiful country that is Italy. Vine-covered hills, snow-capped mountains and the deep blue of the Adriatic Sea await your eyes, from the comfort of bed or a sofa, as the riders grind their way from pillar to post. Perhaps they won’t enjoy it quite so much. It’s hard not to sound like a tourist brochure when talking about it, but the scenery is simply that stunning. The race begins in Sicily on the 3rd of October and ends in Milan, 21 stages later, on the 25th. Andiamo!