Cycling

Giro d'Italia branded 'biggest loser' in new cycling calendar

Giro d'Italia trophy (AFP)
Giro d'Italia trophy (AFP)

Italy's Giro d'Italia was branded "the biggest loser" on Wednesday amid anger over the revised international cycling calendar which Italians believe favours the Tour de France.

"Rosa Di Rabbia (Pink with anger)," daily Gazzetta Dello Sport wrote on the front page of "a decision that goes against common sense and history".

"Lots of races and little space: the Giro loses," agreed La Republicca.

Cycling governing body UCI on Tuesday revealed the new calendar which it is hoped will salvage a season in turmoil amid the coronavirus pandemic which has killed nearly 260 000 worldwide.

Italy, where 29,000 people have died, will host the first race on 1 August with the Strade Bianca in Siena, with the final European race also on the peninsula with the Giro di Lombardia on 31 October.

But the three-week Giro d'Italia, which had been due to get underway this weekend, has been slated from 3-25 October with a six-day overlap with rival Spanish tour, Vuelta a Espana and will be raced at the same time as three 'Monument' classics.

Italian cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco defended the scheduling as having "guaranteed the three weeks of the Giro".

"It was inevitable that an overlap with the Vuelta would be created given the reduced availability of dates and the high number of races to be repositioned," said Di Rocco, also vice-president of the UCI.

But Gazzetta Dello Sport, the Italian sports daily which founded the race in 1909 and is still involved in its organisation, was furious.

"I'm sorry, (UCI president) Mr David Lappartient, but you owe an apology to the Giro d'Italia, the history of cycling and millions of fans who will never understand the logic of certain choices which border on masochism," wrote Gazzetta's Pier Bergonzi.

"How can the Paris-Roubaix and the sixth stage of the Vuelta be scheduled on the same day that the Giro will assign the pink jersey in front of Milan Cathedral?

"The feeling is that Mother UCI has made children and stepchildren.

"The combination of the last stage of the Giro, the sixth of the Vuelta and above all the Roubaix is an insult to common sense and the centuries-old history of cycling.

"The new calendar revolves around the Tour de France which has independently chosen and communicated its new dates directly to the world: 29 August-20 September.

"The Tour has achieved an absolute primacy which is also linked to the true support of French politics, from (President Emmanuel) Macron downwards.

"Neither our sports minister nor the Italian cycling federation could prevent three Classic Monuments (Lige, Flanders and Roubaix) and the third big stage race (the Vuelta) from crowding on the dates of our race.

"We think that the Giro d'Italia, our race, was left on its own and was treated as if it were the daughter of a minor god. All this sounds like a solemn injustice."

The clash of dates also means stars including former world champion Peter Sagan could opt to skip the Italian race.

The Slovak had announced his first participation in the Giro but must now choose whether to honour the agreement or compete in the northern classics, of which he is a specialist.

The Giro had been due to start in Budapest on 9 May, but will now start in the south of Italy, according to reports.

Corriere Della Sera however welcomed that Italy "maintains all the great races".

"Everything is still fluid, but a concrete track for cycling is now there," the newspaper added.

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