Giro d'Italia

Giro boss: No U.S. or Japan start anytime soon

Mauro Vegni tells VeloNews the Italian grand tour has yet to reach an agreement with the UCI on starting outside of Europe.

MILAN (VN) — The Giro d’Italia says it will not visit the United States or any other country outside Europe anytime soon unless cycling’s governing body removes certain barriers.

Belgian website Sport/Voetbalmagazine reported Tuesday that the 2017 Giro would start in Shizuoka, Japan. Similar recent reports linked the Giro’s start to cities in the U.S., including New York and Washington, D.C.

According to organizer RCS Sport, however, the problem remains the distance and the rules.

“At this point, the likelihood of going to the U.S. or Japan is the same,” RCS Sport’s cycling director Mauro Vegni told VeloNews.

“They are there as ideas, but to sit down in America with someone and make a plan, you need first to have the UCI onboard. If they insist on having the rest day only after seven days then you can’t go outside of Europe.

“I hope that the UCI understands how important it would be to have a start like this, but without their OK, I’m not going to go talk with someone in the U.S.”

The UCI gave RCS Sport space for its starts in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2014 and in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in 2016. Instead of the usual two rest days, it allowed the Giro to start on Friday and included an additional rest day after the opening weekend to travel to Italy on Monday. The Giro’s caravan later had its two normal rest days during the race.

“To leave Holland next year, I asked for an extra day. I had to bug everyone to make it happen,” Vegni added.

“If you take the Giro to Japan, how many extra days of rest would you need? Two? At least. If the UCI doesn’t get onboard with the principle that this is important for cycling in the world, then it’s useless that we sit down in the U.S. or in Japan or in other far-off countries.”

None of the three grand tours have ever begun outside of Europe. The furthest the Giro reached was Belfast in 2014.

If the Giro did strike an accord with the UCI, then it would be the first grand tour to travel the uncharted waters. Such a journey would require the peloton traveling eight hours from the east coast of the U.S. to Italy and overcoming the six-hour jet lag.

From Shizuoka, Japan, the time difference is eight hours. A search showed no direct flights, with a journey needing at least 22 hours and one layover.

The UCI did not reply in time when reached for comment on this article.

The Belgian article Tuesday reported an unnamed source saying a deal would be made between RCS Sport and the UCI before the end of this year to allow for extra days in a grand tour. It said the budget is $38.2 million, with RCS Sport receiving $16.3 million to cover expenses, including giving the 22 teams $545,000 each.

Vegni laughed off the report. Besides, he said, he wants to keep the 2017 Giro in Italy for the start and finish to celebrate what will be the race’s 100th edition.

Racing so far from its Milan headquarters appears far on the horizon for RCS Sport.

“I’ll admit, to pull off a job like that you’d need to work on it for some years. There are 1,000 problems, 1,000 things…” Vegni said.

“It’s not like it’s that easy. I wish it was.”