Baby Giro returns to Italy for 2017

The prestigious, U23 amateur stage race returns after a four-year hiatus due to financial problems.

There’s good news coming out of Italy with the confirmation that the Baby Giro will be back for 2017.

Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport confirmed the Italian cycling federation will revive the popular, weeklong under-23 stage race in June. The last edition of the Girobio was in 2012, won by American Joe Dombrowski ahead of second-place Fabio Aru.

“It will be more than a race,” Italian federation president Renato Di Rocco told La Gazzetta. “It will be a celebration of junior racing.”

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The revival of the Baby Giro was first rumored this summer, and Thursday’s news confirms the race will return to the international calendar next year following a four-year hiatus.

The race will run June 9-15, crossing the Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna, Marche, and Abruzzo across central Italy (in similar terrain to Tirreno-Adriatico), with seven stages, including a time trial and a major summit finale. Organizers say up to 27, six-rider teams could start, including 10 foreign teams such as the U.S-based Axeon Hagens Berman squad.

“A race like this could not continue to be absent from the calendar,” said Italian national coach Davide Cassani. “We need to make sure it is an important reference point for many years to come, just as it has always been.”

Since its inception in 1970, the Giro dilettanti evolved alongside the Tour de l’Avenir in France as one of the most prestigious amateur stage races in Europe. Such riders as Francesco Moser, Marco Pantani, and Dmitri Konyshev won the race before going on to major professional careers. Dombrowski became the first American to win it, and then the event lost its financial backing.

The revival of the race marks a renaissance for the struggling Italian cycling scene. The once-vibrant Italian peloton has struggled under the pressure of the ongoing economic crisis in Italy, and for 2017 there will be no Italian-registered elite men’s team in the WorldTour. Yet there are signs of renewal, and the return of the Baby Giro is a good indicator that Italian cycling could be turning the corner.