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Face-off: The Giro d’Italia vs. the Tour de France

The battle for grand-tour supremacy rages on between the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. So we let Fred Dreier and Chris Case duke it out.

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The battle for grand-tour supremacy rages on between the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. So we let VeloNews editor in chief Fred Dreier duke it out with managing editor Chris Case. Which race do you love best?

The Tour

This year’s Giro d’Italia features a murderer’s row of GC strongmen: Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali, Steven Kruijswijk, Geraint Thomas, Bauke Mollema, and even Tejay van Garderen.

But you know who isn’t there? Chris Froome.

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That’s right, the best stage racer of this generation has once again chosen France over Italy. As such, I’m inclined to grudgingly elevate the Tour de France ahead of the Giro d’Italia yet again.

I agree with many of your sentiments, Chris. The climb up Passo dello Stelvio always turns into a massive battle amongst the snowdrifts. The race up Mt. Etna forever erupts into a volatile explosion. The Giro is seemingly impossible to predict. The only formula at the Giro is pandemonium.

Yet the strongest of the strong will not be in attendance. And not all of the Giro’s lineup will be there on top form. Every year, some riders use the Giro as a strength-building slingshot for their ambitions later in the season, most notably the Tour. They arrive in Italy with chubbier midsections and weaker legs, hoping that three weeks of racing hammers them into Tour condition.

Nobody has ever used the Tour de France as a training ride. At Le Tour, every single rider arrives at the absolute peak of his physical form. As such, winning the Tour requires a painstaking plan that must be executed to precision.

The Tour is strategy and execution. It is chess. The Giro? It’s chaos. It’s Hungry Hungry Hippos.

— Fred Dreier

The Giro

So what if the Tour de France will feature Chris Froome bludgeoning everyone, including a past-his-prime Alberto Contador, into submission? That’s supremely boring. In fact, I’m bored just writing that sentence.

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If you want to witness history in the making, with no less than 12 legitimate contenders battling to make it onto the final podium of the 100th edition of Italy’s grand tour, check out the Giro. If you want to wallow through endless hot, boring, monotonous stages across great fields of sunflowers and wheat, check out that race in July.

If you want a real race, with tasty tactics and savory surprises, the Giro is the race to watch. If you’d rather watch Team Sky and all its mystery potions and “negligible advantages” slowly degrade cycling into a robot tea party, tune in for the Tour.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of a snow-lined Stelvio — twice! — and look forward to the chaos that will ensue on the 237 switchbacks the riders will traverse that day, make a date with May. If you’re more of a fan of the Izoard and Galibier, well then, cool, those are great climbs too. But there ain’t no snow!

If you’re the type of person who loves linguine, who relishes in all forms of gluten, go Giro. Prefer escargot and pâté (heaves)? Tour.

Passion — Giro. Badger — Tour.

The Giro is harder, prettier, it has wilder weather and wilder roads. More danger? Check. Less hype? Check. Better racing every day? Check!

The Giro is infinite love.

— Chris Case