This year’s Giro d’Italia kicks off on Friday and runs until May 29th. Here’s what you should know if you’re interested in catching some of the race in person in Italy.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Giro d’Italia is one of the highlights of Italy’s sports calendar.
The Giro d’Italia is one of the highlights of Italy’s sports calendar. Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP.
The Giro d’Italia, Italy’s cycling Grand Tour and the sister competition to the Tour de France and Spain’s Vuelta a España, runs from May 6th to May 29th this year.
With Italy’s Covid restrictions arguably the most relaxed they’ve been since the start of the pandemic, excited fans from all over the world will no doubt be gathering en masse to see as much as they can of the multi-week event.
But you don’t need to be a major enthusiast or a cycling expert to be interested in catching a glimpse of the world famous race up close. Here’s what you should know if you’re considering seeing some of this year’s Giro d’Italia in person.
This year’s route
The 2022 Giro d’Italia route is broken up into 21 stages, starting in Hungary, moving to Sicily, and then heading up the mainland from Palmi in Calabria on the southern tip if Italy’s boot all the way to Verona in the northeast.
The race will kick off in Budapest on May 6th and remain in Hungary for its first three stages, with the contestants then scheduled to travel by plane to Sicily to tackle stage four, which involves a summit finish on Mount Etna.
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This is followed by one more day in Sicily before the race moves on to Calabria, up into the southern Appenines, past Naples, into the central Appenines, along the Adriatic coast to the east, through Emilia Romagna’s flatlands, back west towards Genoa, up through San Remo, Cuneo, and Turin, and into the mountainous north.
The final week of the event takes the form of a series of steep Alpine climbs and descents around the north and northeast, meandering around the dolomites and even taking in some of Slovenia.
How to watch a stage in person
For those thinking they might like to try and catch a stage of the race in person: you can, and the good news is that it’s free. You just need to get up early and make your way to the track in good time.
While the road will be closed to cars well before the start of the race, anyone can make their way on foot, and bikes are generally allowed on the same stretch of road as the riders until a couple of hours before the race begins.
Because of this, spectators who are also keen cyclists often like to ride the same stretch as the pros several hours before they pass by, which allows them to scout out the road and get a sense of the best vantage points, as well as providing them with the satisfaction of knowing they’ve tackled the same route as a world class athlete.
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One of most frequently imparted pieces of advice from Grand Tour regulars is that flat sections are no good, as you’ll wait for hours only for the peloton (the group of riders) to pass you by in just a few seconds.
Instead, it’s recommended to aim for mountain stretches, ideally with mountaintop finishes, where you’ll get a much better view of the riders slowly climbing uphill; or to find a track where the cyclists pass over the same stretch of road more than once (this year’s ‘Napoli to Napoli’ Stage 8 on May 14th, for example, sees the cyclists do four laps of a circuit before retracing their route into Naples).
Grand Tour regulars recommend heading for mountainous stretches to get the best views of the race.
Grand Tour regulars recommend heading for mountainous stretches to get the best views of the race. Photo: Luk Benies/AFP
Another tip is to go for a stage of the race that’s devoted to individual time trials, as you’ll see each cyclist go past one by one, spaced out by a few minutes each, over the course of several hours (the last stage of this year’s race, Stage 21 on May 29th in Verona, is an individual time trial).
To plan ahead, you’ll want to read summaries of each stage to get an idea of which one is best suited to your interests, and then familiarise yourself with the ‘Garibaldi‘, the Giro d’Italia’s official racebook, which has a detailed itinerary and will let you know exactly where and when each stage is scheduled to begin.
While you can (and most people do) see the Giro d’Italia for free, there’s also the option to go with a private tour company which does all the work of planning transportation and arranging your food and accommodation. These are expensive and highly likely to be already booked up for 2022, but if you have more money than time, you may want to consider this option for future years’ races.
If you don’t make it in person this year, there’s always live broadcasts and streams. While these might not be quite as atmospheric as attending in person, they have the advantage of providing viewers with a much clearer picture of the entirety of the race.
If you’re based in Italy, RaiSport will be broadcasting the event; or you can buy a subscription to streaming sites such as Eurosport or Discovery+.