Both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France started in the Netherlands this year. They’re also both multi stage races where the winner is decided in mountain stages and time trials. And that’s about where the similarities end. Le Tour is the biggest and most important race of the year… but the Giro is more exciting to watch. Just compare the first week of both races
Attacks vs strategies
As mentioned, both races started in the Netherlands. In the Giro this meant a lot of -unexpected- excitement and a general classification that went upside down. Riders attacked on the dykes of Zeeland (heavy wind) and several favorites for the overall victory lost a lot of time (anyone remember how a mighty Cadel Evans tried to catch up with a complete peloton? Or how all riders of team Sky finished minutes after the winner?). The Tour also rode through Zeeland. Nothing much happened. Why? Because it is believed you do not win the Tour by attacking, but by strategies and waiting. We may thank Lance for this.
Passion vs economy
The Giro is fueled by passion and less by big advertisers. This has a lot to do with the fact that the Giro is relatively unknown outside of Italy and the Tour is the biggest annual sports event in the world. How does this translate into ‘attractiveness’? Well, the Giro has more inventive stages, unexpected teams and sometimes outright bizarre climbs and finishes (uphill mud racing anyone?).
Spain vs Italy
SPAIN!? Dude, don’t you mean France? Nope. The last French cyclist tot have played a significant role for the title was Laurent Fignon who lost tot the American Greg Lemond (French legend Bernard Hinault was the last Frenchmen to actually win in 1986). The last decade we have barely seen a French rider making it to the top ten. Ever since Armstrong ended his seven year reign, the Spanish have dominated the event (Pereiro, Contador, Sastre and Contador as winners). Quite frankly, with Nadal winning Wimbledon, the Spanish football team winning the European title and perhaps even the World Cup (cheer for the Dutch everyone) we’re a bit fed up with Spanish athletes. I’ll take bad boy Basso over bad boy Valverde any day.
Italy is a more attractive country to watch on a tv screen. ‘Nuff said.
So, perhaps I like watching the Giro more than I enjoy watching the Tour, so what? In the end, I wouldn’t miss either one. It’s comparing Prosecco with champagne or pizza with croissant. Why choose if you can have both?
… But wouldn’t it be great if Cadel won it this year? It would, wouldn’t it? Go Cadel!