Giro in the US? Bad idea.
The Giro is fast becoming my favorite Grand Tour. It is less pretentious than the Tour and less of a red-headed step child than the Vuelta. I love how the race organizers have tried to make the race as fan friendly as possible- they have an active twitter presence, offer non geo-restricted feeds, and have a great after party where they break down the stage that just happened. But I think the idea of starting the Giro in the US is a ridiculous one. In the recent past, there had been many talks about starting the Giro in Washington, DC. The current mayor was a huge bike nerd and DC has increasingly become a bike friendly city. However, at this point, with Mayor Fenty voted out of office, the city council has other things on its plate to spend time or money on the Giro. So it looks like a DC start, or any US start, is a long way in the future.
While it would please me to no end to have access to a Grand Tour right in my backyard, it’s really not fair to the riders and frankly a bad idea. A three week bike race already pushes them to their limits and even a noob like me knows that recovery is the most important part of riding. An 8 hour plane ride plus the jet mag that comes with it is not going to help recovery. When they get to Italy, how do they get over jet lag? Do they get another rest day, or do they go straight into racing? I realize that most professional racers are probably used to to jet lag, and even riding with it, but when you have to ride for 3 weeks straight, starting off with jet leg is not the recommended way to win. If they do race, are the fans then subject to short, flat, boring stages?
In addition, the expense would be ginormous. Who foots that cost? Do the teams? We know that most teams aren’t exactly rolling in the dough. To avoid any mishaps with equipment and staff being lost, it’s probably best to have support in the US and one already set up in Italy. But how many teams can afford the staff and equipment to have two fully functioning race support contingents in two places? And if the teams can’t afford it, who pays for it? Sponsors aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to be part of cycling.
While the novelty of starting the race in the US is huge, I honestly don’t even understand why they have starts outside the country. I’m sure they have some logical reason behind it, but it seems unnecessary to me. I mean, I know Italy is a small country, but have they already run out of places to run the Giro? Is it a cost issue, so the towns in Italy aren’t always on the hook to put up the money to host a stage? Regardless of how I feel, Grand Tours aren’t going to put the kibosh on starts outside their home country any time soon. Nevertheless, I suspect we’ll see a depart out of China or Russia before we see a depart out of the US.