The Giro d’Italia is an annual multi-stage cycling race that takes place in Italy. Similar to the Tour de France, the race is comprised of 21 stages that take place over 23 days, making it one of the Grand Tours. This year’s Giro will travel around Italy in a counter clockwise fashion, going south, traveling up the eastern coast, through the alps, and finishing in Brescia. In last year’s 95th edition of the Giro, Ryder Hesjedal was the first Canadian to win the Maglia Rosa (Pink Jersey, or overall general classification winner). This year’s first stage was held in Naples, Italy (see the course map below):
Like American football, baseball, and basketball rank in American sports, cycling is a very popular sport in Europe. When I first came abroad, I wanted to make sure I’d be able to see at least one UCI World Tour race – and the first stage of the Giro d’Italia worked out perfectly!
A lot of Americans unfortunately think cycling is boring, simple, and ‘not a real sport.’ I’m going to preface this post by saying that I dragged along three of my roommates (who had virtually no knowledge of the sport) with me today for them to check out the race. While they may have had shared initial connotations as many other Americans, they left Naples with a new respect for the sport and happy that they had made the trip!
We got on an Intercity train destined for Napoli around 9:30am. When we got to the city, our first mission was to try and find a restaurant a few of us had gone to during a field study. The restaurant (which we figured out was called Bellini’s) had some amazing Neapolitan pizza. See my post from Naples about that trip.
After a delicious pizza, we headed towards Piazza del Plebiscito, where the opening presentations for the Giro had been the night before. The start of the race was about to happen as well, but I wasn’t entirely worried about seeing that. Today’s stage was special because they would be doing a good number of circuits near the water – perfect for spectators!
Wandering near the course, the riders went by for the first time roughly 20 minutes in the race. I was surprised to see that a small break had formed with a few riders (no particular top contenders though). The stage was very flat, so these riders were working for a little bit of pride and sponsor airtime.
We shuffled down towards the finish of the race and watched as the riders flew by each lap. A Cannondale rider, Cameron Wurf, had gone on a flyer by himself and initially stretched his gap to about 2 minutes. Once the final eight circuit laps started, his lead quickly diminished and was caught with around 19km to go – after spending just over 50km on the front by himself.
The pace quickened in the last few laps of the circuit, and it had seemed like Cavendish was in a great position with his teammates going into the last lap. There was a small crash in the last lap that shook up the peloton. Cavendish lost his teammates due to the crash and a small mechanical issue, but hung on to the front of the peloton. As they came through the last kilometer mark, the sprint began to open up.
I was standing between the 100m and 150m markers, and saw that Cav was coming around the right side as they flew by. The finish was so close, I had to listen to the announcers yell out that Cavendish had made the unbelievable comeback around the outside and edged out a Cannondale rider from Italy, Elia Viviani. After 130km of racing, the Manx Missile got his eighth win of 2013!
We squeezed our way in front of the awards stage to see him receive his Maglia Rosa AND Maglia Rossa (for points classification). Forza Cavendish!
Our train home was in about two hours, so we slowly made our way back to the train station.
Finish line archway after the race.
It almost didn’t seem real that I got to watch the race! I’ve been watching World Tour races streaming on my computer or the TV for so long that it’s weird to see them in person. An amazing start to the last seven days of my time here in Italy!Tags: Cavendish, D'italia, Giro, Giro d'italia, Italia, Italy, Maglia Rosa, Naples, Napoli, Roma, Saturday, Wurf