The 100 things you did not know about the Giro d'Italia | News from cycling
The 100 things you did not know about the Giro d’Italia

The 100 things you did not know about the Giro d’Italia

On 5 May 2017 the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia will be starting in Sardinia.

To tell the truth, the Giro was born 106 years ago and only stopped during the two World Wars.

A century of challenges, goals and legendary exploits which we will try to summarise here in 100 curiosities that maybe you were unaware of.


The first Giro

The first edition of the Giro in 1909 only involved 8 stages, but with an overall length of 2,447 km.

The starting whistle on the first stage (397 km) was blown at 2:53 a.m. in Piazzale Loreto in Milan.

The winner of the race was Luigi Ganna from the Province of Varese, who received the first prize of 5,325 lire.


A good distance

In the 99 editions, the riders have covered more than 346,000 km, the equivalent of about 9 times the Earth’s circumference. The longest stage of all time was the Lucca-Rome stage of 430.3 kilometres, in the 1914 edition. Girardengo won it in 17 hours and 29 minutes.

In this stage, a certain Lauro Bordin also made a name for himself: shortly after the start he passed under a level crossing and raced away for more than 14 hours.


The longest and the shortest

In 1954, the Swiss rider, Carlo Clerici, won the longest edition ever of the Giro d’Italia, covering the 4,337 km in 129 hours and 13 minutes at an average speed of 33.5 km/h

The shortest edition, on the other hand, was the one in 1912, covering “only” 2,439.6 kilometres and was the only edition where teams did not compete.


The fastest and the slowest

In 2013, Vincenzo Nibali won the Giro with the lowest time ever: 84 hours and 53 minutes.
In that edition the routes were 3,341.8 km covered at an average of 39.092 km/h.

The rider who spent the longest time in the saddle, on the other hand, was Alfredo Binda, in the Giro of 1927, covering 3,758 km in 144 hours and 15 minutes at an average speed of slightly more than 26 km/h.


Talking of averages

In 2009, the Russian, Denis Menchov, won the Giro with the record average speed – the highest ever – of 40.167 km/h.

The winner who went at the slowest pace, conversely, was Alfonso Calzolari in 1914, with an average of 23.437 km/h.

As regards stage victories, the lowest average speed was that registered in 2010 by Stefano Garzelli, with 18.67 km/h on the Plan de Corones uphill time trial.

The record average in a stage belongs to the Belgian, Rik Verbrugghe, who in 2001 “flew away” on the 7.6 km prologue time trial at 58.874 km/h, helped, however, by a strong wind from behind.


Riders and Countries

Since the beginning of its history, the Giro has seen about 5,000 riders taking part and just over half of them were Italians.

Sixty-two riders from 12 different countries have won at least one edition.

Italy boasts 69 overall wins, followed by Belgium and France with 7 and 6 apiece.

Italians have been victorious in 1,250 stages, compared to 158 by the Belgians and 105 by the Spanish.

The Giro is not only a men’s race. In 1924, a woman also took part: Alfonsina Strada.


The youngest and the oldest

The youngest winner of a Giro was Fausto Coppi in 1940 at just over 20 years of age.

Fiorenzo Magni was, on the other hand, the oldest winner of a race: in 1955 when he was 34.

In 2007, Andrea Noè wore the pink jersey for a couple of days at the age of 38, but the oldest participant was Giovanni Gerbi, who was 47 years old in the Giro of 1932.


Victories and….disqualifications

Binda, Coppi and Merckx hold the record for the number of overall wins: 5.

Conversely, the record number of stage victories lies with Mario Cipollini in front of Binda, with 42 and 41 successes respectively.

Eddy Merckx wore the pink jersey 78 times.

The first edition, in 1909, also saw the first disqualified riders: in the second stage, Lodesani, Brambilla, Granata and Provinciali were excluded from the race for catching… the train.



In 1914 Giuseppe Azzini won the Avellino to Bari stage of 328 km, with the widest gap of all time: 1 hour and 3 minutes over Calzolari.

In that Giro, however, the same Calzolari also came first in the overall standings with a gap over the second-place rider, Albini, of 1 hour and 55 minutes, establishing the absolute record of all time.

Conversely, 11 seconds was the narrowest gap ever recorded between the first and second place: it happened in 1948, with Fiorenzo Magni winning over Ezio Cecchi.



Impossible to count them all, or to establish a ranking of the most exciting over a century of history, but we can mention a couple of them as examples.

In the Cuneo-Pinerolo stage in 1949, Coppi climbed Maddalena, Vars, Izoard, Monginevro and Sestriere all by himself and, despite 4 punctures, he won with a gap of nearly 12 minutes over Bartali.

In the “television” era, however, Marco Pantani was forced to stop on the Oropa stage in 1999, just 8.5 km from the finish with a gears problem; he lost some time, but set off again, caught the leading group and overtook 49 riders to win the race.




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