The 105th Giro d’Italia will start on Friday 6th May in the Hungarian capital of Budapest before concluding three weeks later on Sunday 29th May with 17.1km individual time trial through the streets of fair Verona.
After two years of navigating Covid-19, Paolo Bellini, the CEO of RCS Sport, which organizes the Grand Tour, is particularly excited about spectators returning to the race.
‘Starting from the 1st May the level of security for Covid-19 will be low and for the first time in Italy we will not use masks even in bars or restaurants,’ explains Bellini.
‘We are expecting to return to normalcy and to have the same numbers as before Covid, around 10 million people.’
For Bellini, the return of huge crowds is really important for the sport.
‘The worst thing was especially in the first year, the lack of spectators on the road. It was the same sensation I had at the Olympics in Tokyo. Sport without spectators is not the same thing. ‘
‘It is the largest event for spectators in Italy, with roughly 500,000 spectators per day.
‘For Italy it is the party of May and it is the opening of the tourist season.
‘It is something that people are waiting and expecting very much, everyone is ready for the passage of the Giro.’
The Great Departure and the route
Budapest was meant to host the Grand Depart two years ago, however Covid-19 restrictions mean this didn’t happen, so the 2022 Great Departure is long awaited.
‘We have a big expectation because we are starting from Budapest. The international situation is not simple, but finally we get to start from Budapest after two years of waiting ‘.
‘It is a very old city with an incredible history. I think every time that you look for a city for the big start of the Giro you look for opportunities of developing the brand and the sport in other countries. And of course Budapest is a very important tourist destination in Europe. ‘
Of note is that the 2022 edition of the Giro includes many signature passes and summits such as Mount Etna on stage 4 and the Blockhaus on stage 9.
Week two features the Mortirolo and there is the Pordoi and Fedaia in the final week.
‘My personal opinion is that the path of the Giro is fantastic,’ says Bellini.
‘Some people say it’s too hard especially in the last ten days, but it’s part of the tradition.
‘Italy is ready, we are ready, and we have a great roster at the starting line.’
A women’s Milan-San Remo for 2023
Currently RCS Sport organizes the Strade Bianche Donne, however, according to Bellini, it aims to add a women’s Milan-San Remo to the race calendar in 2023.
‘We are working this year to launch a Milan-San Remo for women, because I think it’s a spring Monument event that should be for the women.
‘Of course, not such a long distance but we are working now to guarantee it for next year.’
He adds that RCS are looking for opportunities to work with other race organizers.
‘My intention was already to organize a Giro d’Italia woman this year but I thought it was much better to work together with them [the organisers of the existing Giro Donne] instead of creating a new race.
‘Women’s cycling is growing very big, we have incredible riders achieving incredible goals.’
Image credits: Chris Auld