Washington group says bid to host Giro d’Italia start is postponed, not abandoned
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Washington group says bid to host Giro d’Italia start is postponed, not abandoned

by Shane Stokes at 7:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Giro could yet travel across the Atlantic

Today’s news that Denmark will host the start of the 2012 Giro d’Italia spelt the end of the push to try to bring the race to Washington next year. However, the people involved with the bid have said that they still intend being part of what would be the first-ever transatlantic hosting of a Grand Tour.

The aim now is to bring cycling’s second-biggest stage race to the US a little further down the line.

“The prospects of starting a future Giro d’Italia in Washington, D.C. remain alive and well,” Mark Sommers, the Chair of the Washington, D.C. stages of the Giro d’Italia, told VeloNation via email today.

“A number of months ago, RCS [Giro d’Italia organisers – ed.] and the Washington, D.C. stages working group concluded it best to reposition the possible start of the Giro d’Italia in Washington, D.C. after 2012.

“RCS and the working group are continuing to work on this historic sports initiative and believe that the obstacles previously preventing a grand cycling tour from starting outside Europe can be overcome with time.” A representative from RCS Sport has confirmed that talks are ongoing.

One of the possible reasons for the deferral is the change in the city’s mayor. Adrian Fenty was the mayor of Washington, DC from 2007, having taken a landslide victory then. The cycling enthusiast was an important part of the push to bring the race to the US, and negotiated with race director Angelo Zomegnan and others in Washington. However Fenty lost out on re-election last autumn, with Vince Gray taking over in that position.

Sommers’ sense of optimism could mean that the new mayor is also open to thoughts of one of the world’s biggest annual sporting events coming to Washington DC.

He did not indicate which edition of the race they would now aim for. In recent years, the Giro d’Italia has started outside Italy on average every four to five years, although the interval has been closer at times. It began in Athens in 1996, Nice in 1998, Groningen in the Netherlands in 2002 and from Seraing in Belgium in 2006.

Next year’s race will begin in Herning in Denmark. Going by the previous intervals, it appears a likely push to host the race in Washington could be scheduled for 2014 at the earliest.

Could the Giro make cycling history?

While the Tour de France organisers have said that they consider transatlantic transfers to impose too much strain on the riders and pose too many logistical obstacles, the Giro d’Italia seems more likely to take risks. Zomengan is known for shaking things up; this often works very well, making the Giro an edgier race than the Tour in many respects. However on other occasions this has led to criticism from riders, be it due to the difficulty of the route, the length of the stages or the amount of time needed for transfers on the race.

In those cases, Zomegnan’s response has be a rather unapologetic one; he said that the race needs spectacular stages, that it must push the envelope, and that riders are free to compete elsewhere if they don’t agree. The chance to make history by starting across the Atlantic is something which will appeal greatly to him, and is more likely to happen with RCS Sport than with the more conservative French organisers of the Tour.

Between the end of 2009 and the start of 2010, Zomengan visited Washington DC three times in as many months. His trip in February 2010 saw the Italian being joined by legendary Italian frame builder Ernesto Colnago and his sales manager Diego Colosio. They met Mayor Fenty, the Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata and Washington Convention and Sports Authority CEO Greg Odell.

It is understood that the plan that was being worked on would have seen the team presentation, the prologue and stage one all taking place in Washington.

That now won’t take place in the immediate future but, according to Sommers, could yet happen in the next few years. US fans of the sport will very much hope that is the case.


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