The Giro d’Italia is one of world cycling’s three major events alongside the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France, and the first in the 2019 calendar. With more than 100 years of history the event takes in some of Italy’s most famous sights and covers thousands of kilometres in the process making it one of the most gruelling events on the UCI World Tour.
Featuring short sprints and lung-busting endurance rides across the city streets and mountain road stages, this year’s Giro d’Italia is set to be one of the most hotly contested in years with 22 teams consisting of eight riders each – 176 individual riders – getting on their bikes and covering the 21 stages as quickly as possible as they go in search of the lucrative pink jersey and the title of champion.
Ahead of this year’s event we’ve compiled a detailed guide to the Giro d’Italia giving you all you need to know about one of road cycling’s most watched events.
When does the Giro d’Italia start?
The 2019 Giro d’Italia gets underway with an 8.2-kilometere time trial around the streets of historic Bologna in Northern Italy on Saturday 11th May. This year the riders will start with a 6km sprint on the city’s relatively straight and flat roads before finishing with a steep 2km climb to San Luca.
What route does the Giro d’Italia take?
Having completed a relatively short, sharp start the Giro d’Italia heads south west with a 200km ride from Bologna to the small Tuscan town of Fucecchio. There are then four more days of endurance rides before reaching the southern-most point on the route in San Giovanni Rotondo in the province of Foggia.
The competition heads back up the Adriatic coastline before looping around Northern Italy with riders taking on a number of time trials and mountain stages. Many of this year’s stages will take in new sections including a number of mountain passes that haven’t put riders to the test before, ensuring that there is plenty to keep riders guessing, while there are a number of classic stages on this year’s route including the Gavia and Mortirolo mountain sections. This year’s competition eventually concludes in the beautiful and historic city of Verona with riders tackling a third and final time trial over 15.6 kilometres to conclude the event.
When was the first Giro d’Italia?
The first Giro d’Italia took place in 1909 with this year’s event set to be the 102nd running of the competition. The very first Giro d’Italia wasn’t created as a professional road cycling event as part of a global Tour as we know it today, instead, it was formed as a way of increasing sales of Italy’s leading newspaper the Gazzetta dello Sport.
Back then the 1909 event covered a total distance of 2,447 kilometres, starting and finishing in Milan with eight stages spread over a period of 18 days.
How long is the overall event?
In total the 21-stage Giro d’Italia will cover an eye-watering 3,518.5 kilometres across Italy, starting out in Bologna and finishing in Verona on Sunday 2nd June – almost a month after the bikes roll out for the first time trial in Bologna. That equates to 21 individual stages over a 23-day period with the only rest days coming between stages 9 and 10 and stages 15 and 16.
Are there any names to look out for in this year’s event?
Last year’s winner Chris Froome will not be present at this year’s Giro having chosen to put his focus on regaining his Tour de France title from Geraint Thomas, who has also opted against taking part in Italy this year.
That means that two of the biggest names in road cycling will not be in contention for the title this year throwing it wide open to a number of potential winners. Among the favourites to take the coveted title, and first win in the series of Grand Tours in 2019, are the likes of Britain’s Simon Yates who led the 2018 Giro for two weeks before a disastrous stage 19 saw him crash and drop out of contention.
Other potential winners of this year’s Giro include Vincenzo Nibali, Tom Dumoilin, Miguel Angel Lopez and bookmakers favourite Primoz Roglic of Slovenia.
What do the coloured jerseys mean?
At the Giro d’Italia there are four coloured jerseys worn by leading riders, each symbolizing their performance in this year’s competition. Similar to the yellow jersey worn by the rider currently leading the Tour de France, the Maglia Rosa or pink jersey is worn by the general classification leader – the rider at the top of the timesheets and currently on-course for the overall victory.
The blue jersey, known locally as the Maglia Azzurra, is awarded to the King of the Mountain – the rider who completes each of the mountain stages in the best time, accumulating points for their finishing position throughout the Giro. There is also a red jersey which is worn by the rider with the most points in the Giro which are collected through stage victories and finishing positions.
Finally, there is also a jersey worn by the leading young rider. A category dedicated to those under the age of 25, the white jersey is worn by a rider under 25 with the lowest overall time – just like the main pink jersey.