The Best Grand Tour: A Biased Opinion

May marks the end and beginning of a lot of things in the world of Professional Cycling. As spring comes into full swing in much of the Northern hemisphere, the heroics of the Northern Classic single day races fade away, and the first of three epic Grand Tour races comes into bloom. The three Grand Tour races that mark the UCI’s annual calendar are spectacular displays of athleticism by the most elite cyclists in the world. The best squads the pro peloton has to offer push themselves to their limits over the course of three weeks, and across some of the most beautiful scenery any cyclist could hope to ride.

 

The Giro d’Italia

It’s hard to single out one of the Grand Tours as being better than another. The highly publicized Tour de France in July is certainly the most recognizable. The Vuelta a España in August/September is the youngest race, and often marks a chance for nuevo GC contenders to leave their mark on the season. For us though, May’s Grand Tour is a distinct favorite. The Giro d’Italia, or “Tour of Italy”, traverses our backyard and offers a few things the other two races simply cannot.  We may be a bit biased of course, but here’s our case for why the Giro is simply the best.

 

Rosa – The leader’s jersey is pink! PINK!

When the Giro d’Italia was founded in 1909 the original sponsor was a newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport. Today La Gazzetta continues to be Italy’s leading daily paper and is easily recognized by the pink paper it’s printed on.

As a nod to the iconic Gazzetta, the leader’s jersey of the Giro has always been pink. Known as the “Maglia Rosa”, it is the most coveted jersey in the race. It takes a strong man with a strong team to win the “Maglia Rosa”, proving that real men do wear pink.

Throughout our history we have produced garments as an homage to the iconic Maglia Rosa. Right now we have a Giordana Sport Elite Jersey in this beautiful shade of Rosa.

 

The Parcours

Every Grand Tour is marked by dramatic climbs, decisive mountaintop finishes, and elevations that the true contenders will acclimate themselves to weeks before the race. At the Giro, these crucial stages play out over what we consider the most beautiful mountains in the world, the Italian Alps and iconic Dolomiti of Northern Italy.

This year’s Giro has 6 stages that finish on mountain tops. This is where key contenders like Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador, and Richie Porte can either win or lose the overall race. The Italian Alps and Dolomites have often served as the backdrop for our annual photoshoots as well; in recent years we’ve visited the stunning peaks of Tre Cime, The Stelvio Pass, and Monte Grappa to capture images. Over the decades the Giro has visited all of these summits on more than one occasion, making them legends in the world of cycling.

Early spring elements can also add to the drama. May in Northern Italy means inclement weather is always a possibility, especially at such extreme elevations.  It’s not unusual to see the peloton climbing a road flanked with walls of snow that are taller than the riders. A mid-race blizzard on these summits is not out of the question either, just ask Andy Hampsten. These conditions are unique among Grand Tours, and have given us the opportunity over the years to test some of our most versatile garments. For example, the G-Shield range of garments that are designed for cold and wet weather racing were first tested on Giro stages with these type of conditions. Moments like these are just one more reason why we view our race as the most difficult and beautiful of all the Grand Tours. 

 

Eat Up the Miles, Drink In the Culture

There are few cuisines in the world that are considered on the same level as ours. We serve only what’s in season. Simply but precisely prepared to maximize its inherent flavors. What some have recently started labeling as “organic” and “farm to table preparation” is just the way it's always been done in Italy.

Italian wine culture stretches further back than the existence of many new world countries, and we also know a thing or two about a refreshing cocktail. If you can’t be roadside at the day’s stage there’s no better way to watch the Giro than in a local trattoria with a nice glass of local Amarone, if vino is what you prefer, or an Italian cocktail like a Negroni or Spritz Veneto.

We would also suggest a plate of pasta or pizza for lunch that includes asparagus, which is at its peak this time of year, and shouldn’t be hard to find.

 

InGamba Tours

If you’re looking for a true Giro d’Italia cycling experience we recommend our good friends at InGamba. They have a special Giro trip led by former professional rider and Italian cycling legend, Eros Poli. It runs from the 21st of May through the 1st of June, and Eros will guide guests over the same parcours the pros will be riding at the Giro as well as giving a perspective that only someone who has been there can provide. Be assured, along the way you’ll be rewarded for your cycling efforts with some of the best food, wine, and coffee you’ll ever experience.

You’ll also be comfortable and looking good on the bike in the Giordana Custom Apparel we provide to InGamba.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it over this May, InGamba has trips scheduled throughout the summer from their home base of Lecchi in the Chianti region. If there is only one thing you need to know about the InGamba experience, it’s that their slogan is Mangia, Beve, Bici – Eat, Drink, Ride.

We’d also like to say to all the riders in this year’s Giro – “In Bocca al Luppo”, or "Into the Mouths of the Wolves". It means, “break a leg” more or less. We’ll be watching and cheering for all of you.

Read Part Two of our Giro blog post covering this year's race and touches on more reasons why we think the Giro is simply the best!

 

05/09/15

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