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We’ve had a full week of riding at the 2012 edition of the Giro d’Italia. For some people this race is the highlight of the 3 Grand Tours. The Tour de France may be bigger and globally more popular but for a race that’s hard to predict, has huge amounts of national pride and usually has savage, if not out right crazy stages, the Giro is the race a lot of fan boys tune into.

Last year’s race was won by a certain Mr Alberto Contador, but due to his “tainted meat” situation and a resulting 2 year pre dated ban, he has been scratched from the history books with Michele Scarponi of the Lampre team replacing him and taking the honor of the winner of the 2011 edition.

This isnt a guide to this year’s Giro, but instead I thought it would be worth putting together a few facts, figures and tales from past editions.

  • This year’s race is the 95th edition of the race, just 5 shy of the tour de france that hits a grand 100 editions for 2012.
  • A different era, winner of the first Giro Luigi Ganna.

    This year’s race covers a total of 3,476km. If you’ve followed the race it started outside of Italy in Denmark. Herning is the one of the furthest cites a Grand tour has stared from the home country. At over 1500km its up there with the 2010 Vuelta that started in Assen.

  • The first Giro was held in 1909, the winner was Lugi Ganna of Italy.
  • In 1912 the Giro was raced as a team event, this was the only time it has ever been undertaken as a team event. The winners were Atala.
  • Miguel Indurain, did the Tour/Giro double, twice!

    The last year the Tour/Giro double was done was back in 2008 by Alberto Contador, 10 years before that “Il Pirate” Marco Pantani did the double, and the guy that did the double before him was the 5 time tour winner, the man machine Miguel Indurain.

  • The race was canceled between the years of 1915 until it restarted in 1919. It was also cancelled during World War II from 1941-1946.

    Coppi, a legend of a cyclist and a good barber too!!

  • The last edition before the war was won by the legend Fausto Coppi, with the race returning  in 1946, it was then won by the other Italian legend, Gino Bartali.
  • Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi and (of course) Eddy Merckx have all taken the title 5 times. People say, and rightly so, that Coppi could have won more editions if it wasn’t for the outbreak of the Second World War. Coppi spent time in a prisoner of war camp during the war, and apparently was a dab hand at cutting hair!!
  • Since 1997 the Giro been won 13 times by Italians. The last none Italian to win was Denis Menchov of Russia. He was the third Russian to win, the other two being Pavel Tonkov and Evgeny Berzin.
  • The only american to win was Andy Hampsten. Andy probably has one of the best cycling photos of all time, suffering through the snow on the Passo di Gavia, now that’s a true hard man.
  • The first time a none italian won the race was in 1950, Hugo Koblet of Switzerland was the victor.
  • This year the Giro takes in the famed climb of the Stelvio, this climb has appeared in the event time and time again, making or helping to make the race on numerous occasions. One of the more recent was in 2005 when Basso died a death (not literally) on his bike. Suffering like a dog due to illness, he had lost the lead on the previous day but after a disastrous day he ended up a massive 42 minuets down on GC. This year again he’ll be down as a favourite. In 2006 he was back with vengeance and was dominant taking the overall. He also took the overall in 2010. Can he take his third Maglia Rossa this year?
  • The leader’s jersey, like the Yellow jersey of the Tour de France, takes its colour from the newspaper that sponsors the event: The Gazzetta dello Sport. This Italian publication is solely a sports paper.
  • The Giro have possibly one of the best trophies on offer, the spiral design is beautiful and has all the previous winners names engraved on it. It’s up there with the cobble you get to take home if you win Paris-Roubaix.
  • Hanging out with the Giro Mascot…as you do.

    The G also have a mascot, a mountain goat called Girbecco. Nice creature.

  • The leader’s jerseys hasn’t just been designed by the clothing sponsor in the past, with 2008 they got Dolce & Gabbana to design the jerseys. Very Italian.
  • This year the Giro’s seen as a slightly more humane edition compared to the past few years. This is down to a change of guard. This year the director of the race is Michele Aqarone. It’s still not easy its just not as savage as other years.
  • Even though I just said the race is easier this year it still has 11 mountain stages with 7 of them being mountain top finishes. The two days before the final day are stupidly tough. These two days should be pretty decisive to the race.
  • The Danish even produced an official signal for the  race start, the usual Euro beats apply. Check the vid out to see what the peloton will be forced to listen to. It’s pretty good…….ohh, I can’t lie, but the video does have some racing shots in it so it makes up for a poor pop song.

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