The Giro d’Italia is Italy’s answer to the Tour de France and one of the most famous bike races in the world. It lasts 21 days, covers much of Italy’s extremely varied terrain, and, this year, traverses Sicily with Stages 4 and 5. This year also (like last year), Decatur’s own Joey Rosskopf will be racing the Giro for Team BMC, currently the 3rd ranked cycling team in the world. We are here in Sicily to witness the Giro and root for Joey.
The Giro is famous for its passionate fans—the “tifosi”—who line the roads and cheer on the riders. It’s also famous for epically steep mountain climbs, controversy (rivalries, cheating, doping), snowstorms in the Alps or Dolomites, and its champions (Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merxx, Marco Pantani). America’s one triumphant Giro moment came in 1988 when Andy Hampsten pushed up the Passo di Gavia in a snowstorm to win a stage and propel himself to overall victory. We haven’t come close since.
Our little group of aging Americans will pedal up the slopes of Mt. Etna in this year’s Stage 4 of the Giro—hours before the racers arrive—to position ourselves high on the mountain as Joey’s Tifosi. We plan to make good things happen for Joey and BMC; regardless, we know good things will happen for us. We’re always happy on our bikes—never mind the grousing about steep ramps and sore legs.
We’ve come to Sicily for a bike race; we’ve discovered an island rich in history. In fact, Sicily is home to no less than 7 designated World Heritage sites and we will spend as much time visiting them as we will chasing the Giro.