Press reports in Italy suggest that the organisers of the Giro d’Italia will tomorrow confirm that the 2012 edition of the race will get under way in Washington DC. Rumours of a planned departure on the other side of the Atlantic have been circulating for months, notwithstanding the immense logistical problems involved, not to mention time differences.
According to Milan-based business daily, Il Sole-24 Ore, Stage 1 of the 2012 Giro will start on the US capital’s Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of the National Archives Building and close to the White House.
From there, the route will pass the FBI offices, then Freedom Plaza, before heading off behind the White House through Washington’s streets and past the Washington Memorial, the State Department, Virginia Avenue, the Watergate Hotel and Rock Creek Park before heading back in the opposite direction.
The previous day, the city will have staged a Prologue which starts in front of the Memorial Bridge and takes in the Lincoln Monument, as well as symbolically passing two sculptures by Leo Friedlander, Valour and Sacrifice, donated to the US by the Italian people after World War I.
Part of the motivation for taking the race stateside is said to be that while US road cycling fans, as elsewhere, appreciate Italian bikes, the Giro has always taken second place to the Tour de France, something that it is hoped will change with the race’s departure in Washington.
It’s a huge undertaking, however –between riders, team support personnel and race staff, some 1,000 people are involved in the race, to say nothing of the media.
After two days in the US over the opening weekend, whose date is yet to be set, there will be a rest day while the race transfers back to Italy, before getting under way again on the Tuesday, which itself raises questions about the effect on riders – anyone who has flown across the Atlantic will appreciate that due to the time difference, the effects of jet lag seem worse when flying from the Americas to Europe, rather than vice-versa.
Il Sole-24 Ore reports that the official announcement will be made tomorrow at the Italian Embassy in Washington by the city’s mayor, Adrian Fenty – as it happens, a cycling fan whose mother is of Italian origin – and Italian ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant'agata, with race director Angelo Zomegnan also in attendance, who will be courting potential US-based sponsors.
The newspaper reported Fenty as saying: “My grandparents were from Frosinone [a town around 100km southeast of Rome]. One of my grandparents had the surname Bianchi, like the make of bicycle. This Giro will be fantastic, to be able to have it in my city is a source of pride for me.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.