The History and Colour of The Giro d'Italia

27.11.2021 20:34

The Giro d'Italia: Italy's beloved cycle tour that leads riders through some of the country's most beautiful scenery. It's often called "Italy's response to the Tour de France" and the routes traverse a wide range of environments, conditions, and elevations. Many cyclists dream of competing in this famous race, yet do they know the race's history? Let's look at the story of Italy's famous tour.

Early Beginnings

The Tour started over a hundred years ago in 1909, when a group of cyclists raced through the night from Milan to Naples on heavy, old, fixed-gear bicycles. It took them eight days in total. With the riders averaging 300kms a day, this astounding achievement marked the inception of the Giro d'Italia.

Let's take a closer look at the bicycles used. In 1909, bicycles weighed around 22kg - a far cry from today's average road bike which weighs between 7 and 9kg. Pushing this type of weight up some of the Apennine Mountains' steep hills must have been gruelling, especially when the riders couldn't change gears and had to pedal even when dropping in altitude.

Despite huge advancements in bike technology, the stages taken today are much shorter - averaging between 120 and 250km per day. The routes also change from year to year, with 2020's Giro d'Italia starting in the neighbouring country of Hungary before crossing the alps back into Italy. The routes are usually announced 6 months before the race is set to be held. This gives competitors a change to train for the altitudes and climbs they're set to expect.

The Maglia Rosa

A somewhat romantic tradition, the lead cyclist in the Giro always wears a pink jersey. Why you may ask? The answer traces back to the race's origins.

The Giro was first conceived, and then announced, by Italy's most famous sporting paper - the Gazzetta dello Sport. Since the paper's inception back in 1896, the Gazzetta dello Sport had been printed on pink paper. The leader in the Giro's standings continues to wear the Maglia Rosa (as it's affectionately termed) in honour of the newspaper.

The idea was conceived by Armando Cougnet: the journalist who founded and organised the race in 1909, but he only decided to implement that idea in 1931 - over two decades since the first Giro. The idea may not have been entirely original however and was probably inspired by the Tour De France's Maillot Juane.

The Blue, Burgundy and White Jerseys

There are other significant jerseys as well, however. The azure blue jersey is worn by the leader in the mountain division - signifying the strong spirit of the first riders in 1909.

The white jersey is worn by the top rider in the under 25 age bracket - a sure sign of a competitor to watch, just like the games at

The burgundy jersey is worn by the leader in the points division. Points is a track-racing concept that has been accepted into the endurance tradition. Points are awarded to those who have finished with high finishes in a stage or win certain sprints - it's considered a sub-competition in the Giro.
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