Giro d'Italia

$18 million Dutch Giro d’Italia start heralded as ‘best ever’

Giro d'Italia boss Mauro Vegni says 2016's Dutch start was the best foreign Grande Partenza that the race has ever had.

PRAIA A MARE, Italy (VN) — The Giro d’Italia re-started Tuesday on home roads in Calabria, but it is still celebrating one of the “best ever” foreign starts in the Netherlands. Cycling director Mauro Vegni said that Apeldoorn and its surrounding Gelderland province set a new benchmark for hosting grand tour starts.

This morning in Arnhem, life returned to normal in the small Dutch town that hosted stage 3. In Italy, Vegni saw off the rest of the Giro, which will head from the south in Italy’s boot to Torino three weeks later. Fond memories, however, remained.

“This was the best of the grand tour starts that I’ve done, and I’ve been helping the Giro d’Italia go abroad since 1996, when we went to Greece,” Vegni told VeloNews.

“Apeldoorn and the surrounding areas worked hard, and that was the result. I don’t want to take away from the other hosts, but this was the best for me.”

Dimitri Bonthuis, media officer for the Giro in the Gelderland province, told VeloNews that the local organizer spent €12.85 million ($18.55 million). That money covered the fee it paid Giro organizer RCS Sport and the lead-up work through the final pink confetti, swept up Monday morning in Arnhem.

“They did their work,” Vegni added. “We had 235,000 fans on the roadside watching Saturday’s stage, that’s four times the crowd in Milan’s San Siro stadium for certain football matches.”

The Giro first went Dutch in 2002 and traveled through Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France to celebrate the birth of the Euro currency. It returned to Amsterdam in 2010 and in June last year, announced it would set off from Apeldoorn and the green meadows of the Gelderland province.

Helping make the start a success, Dutch star Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin) won the opening time trial to take the pink jersey and the mercury sat around 75 degrees every afternoon.

“I’m Italian, I love Italy, but it was too bad to say goodbye to Holland,” Vegni said. “The people really put their heart into the start and the stages afterward.”

It was the 12th foreign start for the Giro, but the feeling is that the 2016 Grande Partenza will reverberate for some time. Already Sunday morning, Vegni explained that a foreign government official had breakfast with him and asked to host the next Giro.

VeloNews learnt from other sources that the 2017 Giro d’Italia will start on the big island of Sardinia and stay completely in Italy to celebrate the race’s 100th edition. Vegni, however, is open to ideas for 2018 and beyond. The Giro could visit one of Italy’s European neighbors or it may go overseas to the U.S, something looking more and more likely.

“If you show a good product, the people see it and want it,” Vegni said. “There are many people asking to host the Giro. Ireland is asking to have it again. And I won’t even mention those countries outside of Europe. … The Giro’s becoming a brand.”