Giro d´Italia

Michele Scarponi
The Giro d'Italia is o­ne of cycling's Grand Tours (the others being the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana). Also known simply as the Giro, the race covers three weeks between May and June.

The first Giro was held in 1909, and has been raced annually since, aside from suspensions for the world wars. The first winner was Luigi Ganna of Italy, while the most recent (2009) winner was Denis Menchov of Russia. The Giro is usually dominated by Italian teams. Italians have won 65 of the 92 Giros run. Their nearest competitor, Belgium, can boast of o­nly seven wins. For individual cyclists, Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi, and Eddy Merckx are tied at the top of the standings with five wins each.

As with the other Grand Tours, winners of the Giro's individual stages are given jerseys to wear to indicate their standings. The cyclist with the fastest individual time wears the maglia rosa, or pink jersey. The color was chosen to match the Italian sports newspaper La Gazetta Dello Sport, which is printed o­n pink newsprint. A green jersey is given to the rider who does best in the climbing stages, based o­n being first to reach the summit of each major climb. Points are also awarded to the rider who is first to reach the end of each stage, and the rider with the most of these points is awarded a red jersey.

Giro d`Italia 2005
When the Giro began in 1909, it had eight stages for a total of 2448 kilometers (1521 miles). Since then, it has grown considerably. The 2010 Giro d'Italia, unusually, will start in Amsterdam o­n May 8. Cyclists will race in the Netherlands for three stages before proceeding to Italy for another eighteen, beginning in Savigliano o­n May 12 and finishing in Verona o­n May 30. All told, the 2010 Giro covers 3418 kilometers (2124 miles).