This cyclist, nicknamed Il Pirata, is one of only seven to have won both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same year.
In what city does the Giro conclude every year?
There have been three five-time winners of the Giro d’Italia. Can you name them?
In what year did Chechu Rubiera win his first stage in the Giro?
Why is the winner’s jersey pink?
As riders near the finish line on the final day, what favorite treat do they enjoy as they ride?
What country hosted the start of the Giro in 2006?
The Giro d’Italia has been raced every year since 1909, except during what two events?
When Chechu won in Stage 13 of the race in 2000, who finished in 2nd place?
Who was the last Spaniard to win the Maglia Rosa?
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Nicky Orr writes, When you arrive in Italy for the first time, it’s not just the heat that hits you as you get off the plane. Italian culture and life explodes into your senses. Buildings, landscapes and the people are stunning. So beautiful, it’s almost unreal.
Italians live life, loud, fast, fanatical. Their cycling fans – the tifosi - enjoy their sport, as they enjoy wine and designer clothes and food. They do it all with style and passion and drama. Can any other country match the intensity and enthusiasm found in Italian cycling? And why does cycling mean so much to them?
Who better to ask, than a tifoso with the Paolo Savoldelli Fan Club. Marco Rota told us, “Cycling is so popular in North Italy because of hard work, sacrifice and humility are characteristic of our people, and of cycling too. The dream of a lot of children born in Bergamo (our city) is not to become a football player, but to be a great cyclist”.
Maybe it’s also because they can simply reach out and touch their cycling heroes as they work. Is there any other sport where the athletes are so accessible?
Whilst cycling in Italy is still rooted in its working class background, the passion for the sport is bound up with the Italian love of debate and discussion, they argue about everything in life, about politics, religion and of course, sport.
In the past, this passion has created great rivalries, such as the tifosi split between the fans of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali in the 1940s and early 50s. And there are tales of some underhand tactics by fans, such as throwing spikes into the path of a rival cyclist.
But as the Giro d’Italia gruppo passes, everybody celebrates. Marco (he's on the right below) said, “The Giro d’Italia is a race that has existed for many years and covers our nation from north to south. It is part of Italian history, when the riders pass, all the people join in the festivities.”
Paolo’s fan club will be at the most important stages of the Giro to support their hero and friend. Look out for them on the first mountain stage 13 on Saturday 20, and at the toughest, scariest stage 20 on Saturday 27. “We organise a big party on the mountains (both day and night). A lot to eat, a lot to drink. And with music, we eat, drink, sing, laugh and support Paolo!”
And that’s absolutely vital. Cyclists say that the rush of adrenaline, inspired by enthusiastic fans, can ease the pain. So we say, Alé Marco! Go!
Paolo Savoldelli Fan Club
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Nicky Orr writes, Mountains are seductive. I fell in love walking in the foothills of the Cairngorms and the Cuillins, so my view is somewhat rose-tinted. But I look in awe at these inhospitable monsters, created as our world formed, and I’m lulled by their enduring peace and eternal tranquility.
Climbing a mountain on a road bike, however, is another matter, completely outwith my experience and imagination. I know it's super tough. Reading about this year's Giro mountains, I'm both fascinated and horrified at the same time.
The mountain stages of this year’s Giro are already well documented. Here are a few pages, you might like to take a look at.
Gazzetta.it : Giro d'Italia 2006 (in Italian)
Our contribution to your Giro reading is to offer you a glimpse of the formidable beauty of the Italian Alps and Dolomites, a visual distraction which we seek but which pro-cyclists can’t afford. We’ve gathered some words of cyclists and others, about obsession, suffering and exhilaration. If you can find any other quotes you'd like to include, let us know.
Tim Krabbé, The Rider
“ ... the best part is the suffering. Because after the finish, all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering.”
A view from Monte Bondone
British cyclist Robert Millar, quoted by William Fotheringham, Roule Britannia
“Riding up one of the mountains in the Tour if you’re bad is like being sick. The best way of describing how you feel is that it’s as if you were a normal person doing a hard day’s work, you’ve got flu and you can just about drive home and fall into bed. You can’t divide the physical and mental suffering. You tend to let go mentally before you crack physically, with the constant noise all day – people yelling at you, the cars, the helicopters. If you’re still physically strong you can block it out; if not, you never relax.”
Michael Barry, Inside the Postal Bus
“In spite of all the aches and pains, we continue racing and training. It is very hard to get a cyclist to stop. The online reports don’t tell of all the injuries riders are enduring through the weeks of a race unless they are serious. Riders keep quiet about it, plow on, and think of nothing but the finish line, tomorrow’s stage, the last week of the race, the trip home, or the next hill. Push the pain out and keep the legs moving.”
Matt Rendell, A Significant Other
“Great creases have formed over his eyes, and swollen pouches under them. His cheeks have darkened. His jaw is gaping and his shoulders are arched in pain, as if struggling against some irresistible gravity that distorts his features and threatens to engulf him.”
procycling, May 2006 on stages 19 and 20, Giro d’Italia 2006
“A long and hard day featuring four tough climbs including a summit finish. It will be a stage of attrition ... Definitely survival of the fittest by this point. The only bonus on this stage is the lack of summit finish.”
Sean Yates, www.seanyates.co.uk
"Yesterday we went to look at the finish on Plan de Corones. You can see from the pictures that they are still building the road, if that's what you could call it. It is really bad, we're going to use 33-28. It will be interesting to see how they manage to get up it; not so much the leaders, it's the rest of the peloton that I am worried about.
The stage is only 130km long, it also climbs the 30km long Passo di Erbe, and that means that the non climbers are really going to suffer big time if they want to get to the finish inside the time limit. Mind you, the Giro is not the Tour, and pushing riders is rife, plus hanging on cars, motorbikes, in fact, anything that is going faster than themselves."
View of Passo di San Pellegrino
Johan Bruyneel, www.thepaceline.com
“You saw already how the riders and teams had to be firm and rule out the double stage on the last day and the proposed late night transfer after Stage 4. This course is really very, very hard and you have to ask yourself, why? The interest in the Giro was higher than ever last year, it's always an intense race right up to the second-to-last stage.
So as a Director I would prefer it to be less hard - I think the makers of this course have lost their minds a bit. Paolo and Tom went and previewed a lot of the course recently, including Stage 17 - there's no road at the end: it's 5.5 km up a ski slope! We'll be using 34 X 28/29 gearing - that's not cycling. We have struggled more with making sure we have the right components and equipment than at any other race in our team's history. Even at the Tour de France we know that as long as you have a 39 X 25 you're good, but this race."
William Fortheringham, Put Me Back on My Bike
“The act of riding up a mountain is a shared experience ... You can share some of the dull ache he must have felt on his calve and buttocks as he shoved on the pedals and the lactic acid built up. You can sense the hot sun on the back of your neck as he did under his pushed back white Great Britain cap, and feel the dryness in your throat as the rocks suck the moisture from the air. Your eyes will probably sting as the sweat pours into them ...”
The road to the summit of the Gavia
A dramatic backdrop in the Dolomites, 2005
Paul Kimmage, Rough Ride “Tears fill my eyes. I decide to try again. I begin to ride faster, deciding not give up. But the effort lasts just one kilometre. My legs are just empty. A rider passes me on the right at twice my speed. I look across to see who it is. It’s a bearded tourist, riding up the mountain with pannier bags on his bike.”
Floyd Landis, quoted by John Wilcockson, 23 Days in July
“There’s no time to look around, nor to talk to the people beside you in the race. Maybe that’s what’s compelling about it, how everything else disappears and you are completely focused on what’s going on around you. You have to be, becuase most of the time it’s dangerous too.”
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Here's our quick guide to some Italian cycle speak. It might help you to translate the Italian footage from the Giro on Eurosport or cycling.tv.
Arrivo : finish line
Cima Coppi : the highest point in the Giro
Crono, Cronometro : time trial
Fuga : breakaway
Gregario : domestique, team rider
Gruppetto : the last group, composed of sprinters and others whose objectives is just to arrive at the finish line (of a stage) within the time limit
Gruppo : peloton
Maglia Rosa : Pink jersey, worn by the rider leading in the General Classification in the Giro d’Italia. It was chosen because the sponsoring newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport is printed on pink paper. This is the Giro’s equivalent of the Tour’s Maillot Jaune.
Partenza : start line
Scalatore : a climber
Squadra : team
Tappa : stage
Testa della Corsa : the front of the race, the current leaders position
Ultimo Kilometro : the final kilometre (in France, the red kite or Flamme Rouge, indicates the last 1000m)
Tifosi : Italian sports fans, sometimes fanatical in their devotion to an athlete or team.
Ale! : Go! (like the French word allez)
Dai! : Go! (sounds like die)
Dura, dura! : hard (as in a hard climb); hang in there! keep going!
Forza : Go! (lit. force, strength)
Marco Pantani . Milan . Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx . 1997 . The maglia rosa was given the color of the pages of La Gazetta dello Sport, the original sponsor of the race . Gelato . Belgium . World War I, World War II . Gilberto Simoni . Miguel Indurain
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