2012 Giro d'Italia: A DC only affair
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2012 Giro d'Italia: A DC only affair

by Steve Jones at 7:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 

More details have been released by the working group exploring a possible US start to the 2012 Giro d’Italia. They have revealed that there are only two stages being considered on American soil, and both will take place in Washington D.C.

As initially reported on VeloNation, the opening prologue course would include Washington’s world-renown landmarks such as the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol building, and race along the Presidential Inauguration route of Pennsylvania Avenue most recently walked by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Two weeks ago the Tour's race director, Angelo Zomegnan, announced the idea in New York explaining to La Gazzetta dello Sport, “For some time we have had the idea of holding the Giro's start in America. But now there exists a concrete interest from the city of Washington DC.”

A fitting start for the prologue would be between the two bronze statues symbolizing Sacrifice and Valor that mark the entrance to Memorial Bridge. The statues were a gift from the people of Italy to the people of the United States, and would make a nice tribute to the Giro d'Italia's first trip across the pond.

Two of the key players in the US Stage working group, Mark Sommers, the Race Director of DC’s Capital Criterium, and g4 Productions, an events promotion company, echoed that the prologue was designed so that every moment a rider is on the course, at least one of Washington's many iconic landmarks appears in the background.

"The course promises to be one of the most spectacular prologues ever used in a grand tour," said Sommers. "It seems very appropriate that the prologue for the first US start of a European grand tour be held in the heart of the Nation's Capital."

If the race happens, the second day is also slated to stay inside Washington DC’s borders, and according to Sommers, it would then pack its bags and head back to Italy. The tentative plan is for a circuit race with a large loop followed by a smaller finishing circuit. The stage will likely see a long, wide-open sprint finish down Pennsylvania Avenue (America's Main Street), offering the US Capitol as a spectacular backdrop.

"It would be an honor to have such a prestigious US city selected as the first non-European host of a Grand Tour stage,” said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. “The consideration is a testament to the growth of American cycling and the progress of the U.S. in becoming a true destination for the top level of cycling.”

The circuit race would expand the prologue’s footprint and be designed to feature key landmarks around the Nation’s Capital. The working group told VeloNation that the climb up Wisconsin Avenue through popular Washington neighborhoods is being considered for the circuit. The climb would likely top off near the National Cathedral, and swing by the Italian Embassy in a fitting tribute to the Giro’s Italian heritage. The circuit could then pass by Luigi Moretti’s Watergate Complex, Congress and the National Library, before heading back to Pensylvannia Avenue.

Logistics for bringing the Giro to the Nation's Capital will be a monumental task, and the single biggest hurtle for this idea to come to fruition. Starting Italy's Grand Tour in Washington DC would provide a huge opportunity to promote the city as a tourist destination to the Giro d'Italia's European audience. Likewise, the Giro organization will look to endear their race to the American public, as they watch it travel across the world and traverse the Italian countryside.

In 2007 when the Tour de France had it's Grand Depart in London they projected the event would bring more than 100 million dollars in revenue to the city. The start also coincided with Britain's cycling boom that has continued to grow each year.

"We are excited about the opportunity to help bring the first stages of the 2012 Giro d'Italia to our nation's capital. In reviewing other major international cycling events, we recognize that the potential economic impact of bringing the Giro d'Italia to Washington, D.C. is tremendous," commented Gregory A. O'Dell, president and chief executive officer of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority.

"Hosting this race would not only provide the District with a tremendous economic boost, but further legitimize its status as an international destination for world-class sporting events, conventions, and tourism."

Unlike some other major international sports events, bringing the Italian Grand Tour to Washington DC won't require the city to dedicate considerable financial resources to build or modify venues or sport complexes. The proposed prologue and circuit race courses used by the Giro would run on the District's existing road infrastructure.

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