France has the Tour de France, Spain has the Vuelta a Espana, and Italy has the Giro d’Italia.
The Giro should have been taking place right now, through May. However, like so many other sports events, the race has been pushed back due to coronavirus and is now due to start in October.
PONGO London is closely linked with Italy through our use of fine Italian yarns and where we have our manufacturing facilities, the beating heart of what we do.
To celebrate the Giro d’Italia, we’re exploring just a few of the many reasons that makes the race the greatest grand tour of them all, and such a beautiful expression of the Italian love of cycling.
As if in recognition of the flambouyant, expressive Italian spirit, racing at the Giro d’Italia is far more explosive and unpredictable than that of the Tour de France. With the Tour being the most financially lucrative of the grand tours, riders race on nerves and strong teams send their most powerful squads to dominate the race and meet sponsor obligations.
At the Giro, the racing is uncontrolled and you see different names racing for victory. Underdogs thrive and pre-race favourites stutter. The fight for the race leader’s Pink Jersey is a true battle that is not as pre-determined as it is at the Tour.
The Giro is a true ‘race.’
A true exploration of Italy
The Giro receives less media attention that the Tour de France, but that is to its advantage. The relative freedom from external pressures allows the Giro to remain true to its roots and maintain its ability to explore and highlight Italian culture.
While the Tour has to base the start and finish of its stages in large out-of-town venues where there is ample space for the huge fleet of media and support vehicles following the race, the Giro can remain flexible, visiting tiny hill-top towns and sleepy villages. The race shoots past homesteads where family young and old can watch on from their windows and cheer on heroes from their front yards.
The Giro has retained a sense of humble authenticity clear of commercial interests and sponsor obligations. It remains a race for the people.
The Italian weather in the Giro’s typical May start slot is dramatic and varied. One day there may be blue skies and searing temperatures, the next may see heavy downpours, snow or hail.
The volatile weather adds spectacle and another dimension to the race. Images of riders on the high alpine peaks surrounded by six-foot banks of snow, the peloton fighting through monster six-hour stages in monsoon rain, and sprint finishes under the blazing sun adds an man versus the elements dynamic, taking the sport back to its early years where racers were seen as wild explorers battling the wild terrain. The warm, dry, predictable weather of the Tour and Vuelta fails to add such intrigue.
Sure, the Tour de France may have Alpe d’Huez, the Tourmalet and the Galibier. But the mountains of the Giro are higher, more spectacular, more unconquerable.
Whether it’s 2,750 metre monsters such as the Stelvio or Agnello or the twisting narrow lanes of the 2,620 meter Gavia, the Italian Alps dwarf their French cousins. The climbs are more extreme and otherworldly, adding a new level of challenge to the racing and an extra feast for the eye.
Away from the Alps, the Dolomite mountains offer a different form of drama. Rather than huge altitudes and snowy peaks, the Dolomites are a touch lower but surrounded by breath-taking limestone rock formations that form craggy peaks and otherworldly towers.
The Dolomites are a UNESCO Heritage site for a reason – they’re beautiful. And when the Giro visits the range, the race always takes on a new dynamic as riders raise their game to honour the stunning climbs.
The Italian fans – the tifosi - are like no other. Like espresso and pasta, cycling is part of the Italian identity, and the tifosi show a pride and respect for the sport not seen elsewhere in the world.
While the Tour draws fans from around the world, the crowds of the Giro are more local as the Italian nation turns out in its droves to pay homage to riders they treat as heroes. For the Italians, the Giro is an expression of national identity and the country’s rich history. If an Italian wins a stage of the Giro, the country erupts with joy. If an Italian wins the whole race, expect months of celebration and praise. The Italians take their cycling seriously.
The Italian love of the sport and its rich heritage is reflected in the love and care poured into the manufacture of each pair of our cycling socks in our Italian factory. The combination of the Italian sense of style and understanding of quality and their devotion to cycling helps PONGO London manufacture the best cycling socks on the market.
Why not celebrate the Giro d’Italia with us this month by wearing your PONGOs with pride - And get truly in the spirit of the Maglia Rosa by choosing one of our many pink colourways.
Viva la Giro!