In the spirit of top tens, I am putting my feelings out there on the greatest stage race.
10. Pre/post race meal. Given the high need for carbs, what can be better than some good old fashioned home-cooked pasta. To wash it down with a glass of Chianti? Moto bene! This theory has been backed up with a few discussions with some pro riders I had the privilege of meeting over the years.
9. Keeping powder dry. The Giro has a tradition of riding piano (at a controlled tempo) early in the stage thus guaranteeing an explosive finale.
8. The route is harder. Generally considered a climber’s race, the Giro actually is a better test of a rider’s all around talent. In the Giro, Flat stages are not flat and the climbs are longer and steeper (see number 2) than what is found in France. In recent years, I believe the Tour de France is more of a Time Trialist’s race than an all around test.
7. The Tifosi. You have to admit, the Giro fans are knowledgeable, passionate, and enjoy their race. The Tour does attract fans from all over but the nod goes to Italy. Heck, where else do fans have their own name?
6. The route. The Giro route always guarantees interesting racing from the beginning. Mountains are interspersed during the first week forcing sprinters to work in order to be successful. Routes are designed to facilitate breakaways or force teams to work for every stage win. Within this year’s Giro, there are eight sprinter’s stages. (I will not say flat) which will need to be hard fought. Five stages are too hard for the sprinters and too easy for the climbers. Perfect fodder for a break. And finally, there are five mountain stages with four summit finishes. The Time trials are also in no way boring with one being a climbing time trial. This in addition to the opening TTT. The Tour only varies in its direction from clockwise to counter clockwise. Between the prologue and the first time trial it’s pretty boring.
5. Creative race organizers. The Giro is always in continuous improvement mode. Take this year’s Team Time Trial. The course was very difficult juxtaposed to the beauty and poetry of a team time trial. How about climbing on unpaved roads? Sometimes their ideas do not work like two stages in one day. But hey, they push the envelope.
4. Scenery. Both races offer beautiful vistas as backdrops to the race. I have to give the edge to the Giro.
3. No LNDD. Sorry, I had to put this in here.
2. Monte Zoncolan
1. The race is actually won by home town riders. In the last 25 years, the Tour de France has been won by Frenchmen 4 times (twice each by Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault). During the same time period, the Giro has been won by Italians 15 times including the last 10 consecutive races.