What is the Giro and when did it all begin?
The duration is over three weeks on various challenging route profiles, the final week packed with tough climbing and a total of 70 km of time-trialling, over 21 stages, two much-needed rest days and a total distance of 3,448 km. The Giro features the world's best cycling professionals battling it out to win the prestigious and coveted pink jersey or Maglia Rosso and the beautiful spiral gold trophy. This year's 106th edition will have its Grande Partenza (the start) in Ortona in the beautiful Abruzzo region of southern Italy. While the peloton will travel in and out of Switzerland, most of this year's race will be on home ground.
The Giro d'Italia originated from a daily Italian newspaper called La Gazzetta dello Sport, which covered news of various sports at the time. The Giro d'Italia's inaugural race, on May 13, 1909, was an attempt to help increase newspaper sales, which it did, of course! The reason that the race's primary theme colour is pink is because of La Gazzetta’s colour – pink. Today, RCS Sport runs the event. RCS Sport’s parent company, RCS Mediagroup, also owns the newspaper, which has more than 3.6 million readers and remains the country's most popular paper.
The Giro legendary Hall of Fame
Over the years, only 22 riders have won the race more than once. Three riders, Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi, and Eddy Merckx, all won the coveted prize and the record win of five times and no pro in recent history has come close to beating their five impressive victories. The footage will give you a great sense of what the atmosphere was like at the Giro at that time in history.
In recent years, only Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali have won the Giro more than once, and both are now retired. Almost all the winners below were all at the time in their early twenties.
● Five wins: Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx
● Three wins: Giovanni Brunero, Fiorenzo Magno, Felice Gimondi, Bernard Hinault
● Two wins: Carlo Galetti, Costante Girardengo, Giovanni Valetti, Charly Gaul, Franco Balmamion, Jacques Anquetil, Giuseppe Saronni, Miguel Indurain, Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni, Paolo Savoldelli, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali
Mario Cipollini won the most stages in the Giro with 42 wins. No one has come close to challenging this record, with Eddy Merckx holding second place with 24 stage wins, Francesco Moser with 23, and Alessandro Petacchi and Roger De Vlaeminck both with 22. Throughout the history of the Giro, Merckx holds the title for the rider to have worn the pink jersey the most, wearing it on 77 occasions.
Below are the recent winners:
2022: Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) <br> 2021: Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)<br> 2020: Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers)<br> 2019: Richard Carapaz (Movistar)<br> 2018: Chris Froome (Team Sky) <br> 2017: Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)<br> 2016: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) <br> 2015: Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Did you know? Some fun facts
● In 1924, an Italian woman, Alfonsina Strada, took part. She was the only woman to have ridden the men's race and this was to demonstrate what women were capable of achieving. (Good for her!)<br> ● Throughout the Giro's century-old history, there were nine years where the Giro d'Italia did not take place, and that was during the two world wars.<br> ● Today, the Giro d'Italia broadcasts to over 800 million people in 174 countries.<br> ● Even though the Giro d'Italia is an Italian cycling event, it doesn't always start in Italy. Since 1965, the Giro d'Italia has started outside Italy 13 times; in San Marino (1965), Monaco (1966), Belgium (1973, 2006), Vatican City (1974), Greece (1996), France (1998), Netherlands (2002, 2010, 2016), Denmark (2012), Northern Ireland (2014), Israel (2018) Hungary (2022). In 2023 it will remain on home soil.
The different jersey colours awarded during the Giro - what do they represent?
The unique coloured jersey for each category goes to the leader of that classification at the end of each stage, and the rider earns the right to wear it for the next stage.
The Maglia Rosa - or the pink jersey - is the most sought-after jersey in the Giro d'Italia and will ultimately be worn by the overall winner.
The blue jersey, or Maglia Azzurra, is the King Of the Mountains jersey. Unlike the KOM jersey at the Tour de France and La Vuelta, it is not a polka-dot jersey but rather a completely royal blue colour awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points by racing up the categorised climbs first. Earning the 'Cima Coppi' award, named after the great Fausto Coppi, is also a significant advantage, which gives the rider 50 points for summiting the highest point in the race first.
The best young rider's white jersey ('Maglia Bianca') gets awarded to the best rider under 25. In the past, the youngest rider has also been the race's overall winner.
The best team classification gets calculated by adding up the time of the three highest-placed riders. They wear pink numbers.
Some key stages from the Giro 2023 in which you can immerse yourself and ride too
Below are some segments on the same routes or variations available on ROUVY that you may want to build into your training to ride on the same days the pros ride these stages. Why not tackle these routes before the coverage and watch the Giro stage later while relaxing with a well-deserved pizza, spaghetti or gelato or Italian salad, or ride these and watch simultaneously for extra motivation?
STAGE 4 - Mt Etna - Conquering the fiery volcano where sparks fly for the pros
Mount Etna, Europe's highest active volcano, and the Giro's “Mont Ventoux,” overlooking Sicily, just off the "toe" of Italy's "boot," is one of the tallest active volcanoes in Europe, dating back half a million years. The volcano is the tallest peak in Italy, south of the Alps, the biggest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It will also be the backdrop to a famous summit destination where fiery battles are sure to ignite in the pro peloton in this year's Giro as they did in the past. This ROUVY route approaches the summit of Mt Etna from the west side, and you can read more about this volcano climb on the blog and then ride it yourself.
How to ride it:
A suggested way to ride it is to find a steady rhythm that gives you enough power left for the remaining 5km, whether you ride or race it. For this very long and arduous climb, an appropriate warm-up will help with more efficient blood flow, raising your body temperature and facilitating an increased range of motion in your joints. Once warmed up, muscles will feel less tight, pedal strokes will become more fluid, and you will feel more prepared to reach the top. Keep a steady pace for the first half because it's a long climb requiring conservative pacing with a regular heart rate. You do not want to increase too fast too early on.
STAGE 7 - Gran Sasso d'Italia - the great rock of Italy
The Giro returns to the Abruzzo region on the 7th stage for the first proper mountain-top finish, where the peloton rides to the high-altitude iconic plateau Campo Imperatore. The ROUVY route joins from the east side and then goes further to the Gran Sasso, an eye-watering and brutal 45 km ascent with a 13% maximum gradient. Gran Sasso, meaning Big Rock, is a mountain chain consisting of a dying glacier that formed a massif of dolomite and limestone in the Apennines in central-east Italy. Standing like a titanic grey sentinel at 2,900m, Corno Grande is the highest peak in the Apennines and the second-highest mountain range after the Alps. The views are absolutely breathtaking!
Read more about this legendary climb and its heroes who crossed swords on these famous slopes in Little Tibet on the Gran Sasso, then conquer it if you can! The other version of this route is a slight variation in the direction from the west but is just as brutal and spectacular!
How to ride it
The first 7 km is just climbing, but it's not that steep, followed by a gentle descent of 3km. Use this section for your warm-up and pace yourself conservatively because it is far from over, and the hard part starts only after 28 km. Pace yourself over this part with its flat sections and undulations, and try not to burn too many matches because you'll need all your energy for the final climb of 6 km to the summit! The views are spectacular, and it would be well worth looking around at this very varied and unique terrain.
STAGE 19 - Conquer the Tre Cime
Stage 19 of the Giro heads into the majestic Dolomites and includes a summit finish on the legendary Tre Cime di Lavaredo. One of the greatest and hardest Giro d'Italia climbs, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo or The Three Peaks of Lavaredo are three alpine peaks or massifs in the Italian Alps and one of the most recognisable and spectacular mountain landscapes in the Dolomites. Unsurprisingly, Italian rider Battaglin was the first to introduce the triple chainring when racing on this steep climb in the Giro in the eighties.
The pros will tackle one mountain after the other with the elevation primarily in the final 100km of the 183 km stage, where they will eventually, after this long day, still need to ride up numerous hairpin bends on unrelenting steep gradients till the finish. The iconic climb comes back ten years after Vincenzo Nibali won in the misty conditions. This stage will be the last chance for the climbers to move up in the GC. They must physically and mentally prepare for a relentless, challenging day of extremely tough racing. The TV coverage on the day is guaranteed to be very exciting!
The ROUVY route segment of the climb is 23 km long with 1,350m of climbing, starting in Cortina d'Ampezzo, nestled in the heart of the majestic southern Dolomites in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. The road snakes through spectacular alpine scenery with views of and majestic mountain scenery showcasing the rugged and rocky Dolomites. Tre Cime di Lavaredo totals 7.2 kilometres and averages 7.6%, while the last 4 kilometres include challenging double-digit gradients. Take a look at the breathtaking views!
How to Ride it
Before you start the route, do at least a 15-minute warm-up to prepare the legs for this long climb. Ensure you have enough ventilation, towels, fluids and nutrition during and it’s a good idea to eat a small high carb meal about 2 hours before.
From the town of Cortina d'Ampezzo, you'll wind up numerous switchbacks for 9km. Following the climb, you'll be able to recover a bit on some downhills and flats until 13km, when the tough climbing starts. Pace yourself conservatively: try to spin a high gear of about 90 rpm and this will allow you to push harder for the last stretch and spare you something in the tank.
Gear prep before you hop on the saddle:
You'll either need climbing gears such as a compact crank in the front and a choice of a 32T or 34T as your biggest cog at the back. You can also use a gravel bike or alternately use the reality level in Just Ride mode, which is a way of flattening out the climbs. If this is still too hard, pick an easy but long workout of around two hours (you can search the Workouts under 'Endurance or Easy') and ride in Zone 2 at 60-70% of your FTP, insert the video as a background and spin at 90-100 rpm and enjoy the views this way. Fun and immersive, I do this for some of my endurance training sessions.
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of the beautiful routes in the latest Italian Challenge in May. Check it out! You can set up a race with your friends and race each other to the top on the same day the pros race it in Stage 19. Afterward, you can share your war stories on Strava! Ride, race or explore the routes from this year's Giro and other challenging, legendary and beautiful segments ridden by the pros in previous years' Giro, all on ROUVY from home on your trainer. Feel what it would be like riding these same routes that legends have battled on for over a century.