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The 2017 Giro d'Italia starts on the island of...

Giro flexes organizational muscle with Sardinian start

The Giro d'Italia turned 100 with a start in Sardinia and two stages in Sicily — a Herculean task according to race officials.

CAGLIARI, Italy (VN) — Mauro Vegni looks over the Sardinian shore and blue see beyond and laughs. The Giro d’Italia is jumping a logistical hurdle with start in Sardinia and transfer to Sicily.

The Giro d’Italia is celebrating its 100th edition with a start in Sardinia and two stages in Sicily before transferring to the mainland. It is something that is more difficult than the big transfers abroad, explained RCS Sport’s cycling director.

“This island is very far from the continent, which means a transfer to go and to return,” Vegni told VeloNews. “We wanted to do it in the 100th edition. We couldn’t not be here.”

To be here on Italy’s second biggest island after Sicily known for its Emerald Coast and vacation spots costs millions.

The Sardinia region paid €5 to 6 million ($5.5-6.6m) for the hosting rights. RCS Sport profited, but Vegni said that around €3 million ($3.3m) of that went to cost of running a big start and the added costs of providing chartered ferries and airplanes for the 22 teams, organization and journalists.

One massive ferry left Cagliari Saturday night for Palermo with cars and trucks to gather the riders and others on two chartered flights Sunday evening, carrying around 600. Two more ferries motor away from the island tonight for the 12-hour journey to Sicily, the late one will include VeloNews and its car.

“They had to raise the funds, they are significant with air and boat transfers,” Vegni said.

North of Sardinia sits Corsica, the big French island that the Tour de France only visited once in 100 years. It stared there to celebrate its 100th edition.

“I don’t want to judge my French counterparts. For us, it’s just a problem of logistics and not politics. Over the years, the logistics are easier than 40 years before, fast boats, chartered planes and boats. The problem is approached differently.”

“I don’t want to judge my French counterparts. For us, it’s just a problem of logistics and not politics. Over the years, the logistics are easier than 40 years before, fast boats, chartered planes and boats. The problem is approached differently.”
– Mauro Vegni

The race started in the island’s northwest and traveled along the Emerald Coast to Olbia. Stage two cut through the rugged inland for Tortolì and three skirted the east coast for the region’s capital and port city Cagliari.

“Sardinia responded well. Many people turned out, the attached was there, the island coloured pink. You see how this island loves the Giro,” said Vegni.

“We hadn’t been to this magnificent island for many [10] years. It was done with a plan: Sardinia and Sicily, Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali, a big plan for the 100th Giro. It was the right decision. I had intuition, but also luck.

“It’s beautiful, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. What they showed this year proves that they deserve to have the Giro again.”

Vegni could afford to relax at the start of stage three because his job was almost complete. And besides, he has the experiences of starting of starting in Northern Ireland in 2014 and Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, in 2016.

“The first is always the hardest. We did the big one in Ireland, which is also an island. We needed the structure, the cars, the extra rest day for the transfer. That was a massive undertaking,” Vegni added.

“Now, we are able to duplicate it and it’s not as hard, so I’m not worried about 2018. It’s more complicated here, worse than a big start abroad. Now, I can confront anything, also far away from Italy’s borders.”

The Giro organizer has yet to announce its 2018 start plans, but some say it could begin in Israel or Poland.