Roches, routes and ‘maglias rosa’

The bluffer’s guide to the Giro d’Irlanda

Stephen Roche:  the only Irish winner of the Giro. He lifted the honours in 1987

Stephen Roche: the only Irish winner of the Giro. He lifted the honours in 1987

 
  • The Giro d’Italia is one of cycling’s three annual Grand Tours, or three-week races. The other two are the Tour de France and, in Spain, the Vuelta a España.
  • The Giro d’Italia was first held in 1909. This year’s will be the 97th. The 1915-18 and 1941-45 races were not held because of the first and second World Wars.
  • This year’s race will begin with the team time trial in Belfast next Friday. It will be the first time the race has started outside mainland Europe. A Grand Tour has only once before been held in Ireland, when the Tour de France began in Dublin, in 1998.
  • As was the case with that tour, three stages will be held in Ireland. The race will then return to Italy, to continue there on Tuesday, May 13th.
  • The leader in the overall standings is calculated by adding up each rider’s time from each stage. The person at the head of that general classification wears the distinctive maglia rosa, or pink jersey. It is pink to match the pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport, the newspaper owned by the Giro’s organiser, RCS Sport. It is the equivalent of the Tour de France’s yellow jersey.
  • There are several other jerseys for the leaders of various classifications. These include the red maglia rossa jersey, for the leader of the points classification, the blue maglia azzurra, for the mountains leader, and the white maglia bianca, for the best under-25.
  • The Irish stages begin with a 21.7km team time trial starting at the Titanic Belfast centre and concluding at Belfast City Hall. Stage two is a 218km road race stage that also goes from from Titanic Belfast to Belfast City Hall. Day three’s road race begins in Armagh and ends, 187km later, in Merrion Square in Dublin.
  • Twenty-two teams of nine riders each will race – a total of 198 competitors. These will include three Irishmen: Nicolas Roche will lead the Tinkoff-Saxo squad; his first cousin Dan Martin will head the Garmin-Sharp team; and Philip Deignan will represent Team Sky, although he will likely be required to play a supporting role.
  • Roche’s father, Stephen(above), is the only Irish winner of the Giro. He took the honours in 1987, then won the Tour de France and world championships in the same year. He is only the second rider in history to take the three races in one season. The other, Eddy Merckx, is regarded as the best of all time.
  • Shay Elliott was the first Irishman to win a stage in the race. He took stage 18 in 1960 and also won stages in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.

 

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