BRIEF TOUR HISTORY
The Giro d'Italia was born when the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper wanted to distance itself from its competitor, the Corriere della Sera, by holding its own sporting event inspired by the Tour de France. On May 13, 1909, 127 riders set off to cover 2448 km in 8 stages. Italian Luigi Ganna won the race in Milan and was one of only 49 riders who finished the cruelling enterprise. His prize was 5,325 lire. The popularity of the Giro was immediate.
The first rider to dominate was Alfredo Binda who first won in 1925. After 4 wins in 5 years the organizers offered him 22,500 lire not to run in order to 'preserve the interests of the race'! He sat out one year to return in 1931, which was the first time the famous pink jersey or 'maglia rosa' for overall leader appeared. Its color was taken from the La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The immediate pre war years saw the arrival on the scene of the two greatest names of Italian cycling: Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi. Their intense but fair battles became legendary and every tour since has had to live up to this golden period. Following the Second World War, the 1946 Giro was run on the roads devastated by conflict. After a famous duel, Bartali won with only a margin of 47 seconds ahead of his rival. Coppi took his revenge the following year.
In 1957, French Louison Bobet became the first Frenchman to win the Giro and others followed, notably Jacques Anquetil in 1964 who won his second race wearing the pink jersey for 18 stages. Belgian legend Eddy 'Cannibal' Merckx was next with a record equalling 5 wins in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, and Bernard Hinault in 1980, 1982, 1985.
Since 1997 amidst some turbalent times for the race, both on and off the roads, Italian riders have dominated, notably Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni, Paolo Savoldelli and Ivan Basso, but not forgetting the tragic Marco Pantani who won just a single Giro in 1998. Special mention must also go to sprint specialist Mario Cipollini who is the all time stage winner with 42 victories, one ahead of that man Alfredo Binda.
GIRO D'ITALIA STATS
- Most victories: 5 by Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi, and Eddy Merckx
- Most days in the maglia rosa: 76 by Eddy Merckx
- Smallest margin of victory: Fiorenzo Magni, 11 seconds over Ezio Cecchi in 1948
- Longest Giro d'Italia: 4,337 km in 1954
- Shortest Giro d'Italia: 2,245 km in 1909
- Most Competitors in one Giro d'Italia: 298 riders in 1928
- Least Competitors in one Giro d'Italia: 56 riders in 1912
- Fewest Finishers in one Giro d'Italia: 8 people finished in 1914
- Longest Breakaway: 222 km by Antonio Menendez in 1976
- Youngest Rider to win: Fausto Coppi in 1940 he was 20 years, 8 months and 25 days old
- Oldest Rider to win the Giro d'Italia: Fiorenzo Magni in 1955 he was 35 years old
- Shortest Stage: 1.15 km in 2005
- Most times on the podium: Felice Gimondi 3 wins, 2-time second placed; 4-time third placed