Florence, capital of Tuscany, has partnered with the neighboring region of Emilia-Romagna (Bologna) to this great unprecedented departure. Despite its rich cycling history, Italy had never before hosted the start of a Tour de France, “the biggest cycling race in the world”.
Former rider, Davide Cassani was involved in the Italian candidacy for 2024: “With the president of Emilia-Romagna, we made the big start of the Giro in 2019. After this Tour, I asked him: “What can we do more? We can organize the grand departure of the Tour de France.” The president said to me: “But it’s difficult!” Davide Cassani says he answered him: “Yes, it’s almost impossible. Almost. Because the Tour de France never left Italy.” And to add: “We worked with Emilia-Romagna, with Florence, to realize our dream. Because it’s a dream for us.”
The big start of the Tour, a dream for many
Dream, this word often comes up in conversations when we question the actors of the Italian “little queen”. For “il diablo” Claudio Chiappucci, “it’s a great opportunity for us to host such an event. We had great Italian champions on the Tour. It’s going to be really special.” The old polka dot jersey adds in a joking tone: “Too bad I don’t run anymore!”
Pour Dario Nardellamayor of Florence, “there is already the scent of the great departure of 2024. A year and a half is really a short time before arriving at this important event for us, which is also an event for the history of the cycling, for the history of sport and for the history of Italy.”
“It’s an honor, a pleasure”, adds Moreno Argentin, 1986 world champion, specialist in classics, and 13 times winner of stages on the Giro (against 2 on the Grande Boucle). But Argentin seems a bit embarrassed when asked to compare the Giro and the Tour. It would not be a question of offending one or the other organizer!
The Tour and the Giro, old rivals
It must be said that without being fierce adversaries, the two biggest national tours of the cycling planet are nonetheless rivals. Renato Di Rocco, 75, former president of the Italian cycling federation, remembers: “I worked with Félix Lévitan and Vincenzo Torriani, former directors of the Tours de France and Italy. And I recognize that there was an arrangement between the two to leave neitherItaly nor from France.”
Renato Di Rocco explains: “It’s good that there was the candidacy of Florence and the region of Emilia-Romagna, where the last two world championships organized in Italy took place. I think that everyone everyone in Italy is very happy to have the start of the Tour de France. It’s extraordinary.”
Entre le Tour, organized by ASO (owned by the Amaury group like the newspaper The team) and the Giro, organized by RCS (owner of the sports daily the Gazzetta dello Sport), there is sometimes the impression that the second seeks to offer more extraordinary departures than the first. Like when its 101st edition started from Jerusalem in 2018. It was the first time (and so far the only time) that a Grand Tour had started outside Europe.
The Giro started from Nice in 98
If ASO has put a lot of emphasis on the success of the 2022 edition part of Copenhagenthe Denmark had already hosted the big start of the Giro. In 2012, the peloton started from Herning, birthplace of Bjarne Riis. And last summer, the Giro chose to start from Budapest! The Giro which has already made “una grande partanza” of France. It was in 1998, in Nice, which is undoubtedly the most Italian of French cities.
President of the European Cycling Union, Enrico Della Casa, from Emilia-Romagna, considers this “very healthy rivalry, as at the time there was Francesco Moser and Bernard Hinault. There is no problem between the Giro and the Tour. They talk to each other, they meet, they meet together.”
There remains the question of the most spectacular Tour to watch. The Grande Boucle has the reputation of being a more closed race than the Giro, which would therefore be more rock’n’roll to follow. The specialists already have their opinion, the others will. But one certainty, no French rider has won the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985, and on the Giro since Laurent Fignon in 1989, when our Italian neighbors at the same time multiplied the final victories in these races (Nibali, Pantani, Bugno, Basso, Scarponi, etc.)