The year was 1931 when Learco Guerra won the first Maglia Rosa – the famous pink jersey that identifies the rider who tops the general classification of the Giro d’Italia – in Mantua. The iconic jersey was the brainchild of one of the Giro d’Italia’s founding fathers, Armando Cougnet. Pink like the color of the pages of Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, the jersey celebrates its 90th birthday this year and is in excellent shape. Originally made of wool, today’s jersey is crafted from high tech fabric. While its tone and style have varied over the years, the jersey has always remained a symbol of the excellence of the Giro, which presented its 104th edition on February 24. From May 8 to 30, beginning in Turin and concluding in Milan, the race will cover 3,450 kilometers over 21 stages, with two time trials, eight summit finishes and some stretches on dirt roads, in addition to the Queen of the Dolomites Stage, with its 5,700 meters of elevation gain, where the pink of the Maglia Rosa will match the color of the mountains.
This year’s event could be described as the Giro of anniversaries: in addition to the 90th anniversary of the Maglia Rosa, for which our Group is once again the sponsor, this year also marks the 160th anniversary of Italian Unification (which is one of the reasons why the race will begin in Piedmont, where the unified Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861). Alfredo Martini, the legendary coach of the Italian national team would have turned 100 in 2021 and he will be commemorated with a stage dedicated to him. The race will also mark 700 years since the death of Dante Alighieri with the Ravenna stage, where the great poet is buried.
“This year, the world’s toughest race in the world’s most beautiful country will again be part of a narrative that is not solely about sport but also [about] culture, history and tourism,” announced Paolo Bellino, CEO and General Manager of RCS Sport.
We will be contributing to this narrative with the values that we have always shared with the ‘Pink Race’, as our Group’s Head of Market Italy, Nicola Lanzetta, explained. “The color pink, a symbol for many of us in the cycling world, is associated with the concept of hope. Today, more than ever before, it is a concept of huge importance to us: valuing and respecting the territory is one of the most important points that we share with the Giro. But when talking about the territory, it is impossible not to talk about people: the biggest companies or the biggest races would be nothing without the riders and the other people involved. Finally, we cannot forget the passion and enthusiasm that gives a unique flavor to this experience that binds us together.”
Giving further detail about the route, Director of the Giro d’Italia Mauro Vegni commented, “This Giro d’Italia will be a tough race right from the very first week. The riders will face some very challenging stages and for this reason they will have to be ready from the start.” After a ten-year break, the race will be setting off again from Turin, with an individual time trial and another two stages in Piedmont, before moving on to Emilia Romagna and the first summit finish. The route will then head further south along the boot of Italy through the Adriatic regions to Puglia. From there the race route will return northwards with a new summit finish in Abruzzo, at Campo Felice. There will be an unpaved stretch during the Brunello di Montalcino Wine Stage from Perugia to Montalcino and in the following stage, Siena to Bagno di Romagna, homage will be paid to two of cycling’s greats: Gino Bartali and Alfredo Martini. The following stage, from Ravenna to Verona, will commemorate Dante Alighieri, while May 22 is the day of the formidable Monte Zoncolan summit finish. After the Friuli-Venezia Giulia stage, the second week of the Giro concludes with the Queen of the Dolomites stage, which tackles the Fedaia Pass (dubbed Mount Pantani for the heroics of Marco Pantani), the Pordoi Pass (the Cima Coppi, the Giro’s highest peak) and the Giau Pass before descending to Cortina, site of the recently concluded World Ski Championships and of the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. The route then passes from Trentino to Lombardy, edging over the border into Switzerland with the difficult penultimate stage from Verbania to Valle Spluga. The grand finale is on Sunday May 30, with an individual time trial that will end in the shadow of the Duomo in Milan, in the capital city of the Giro, where, just as in previous years, the winner of the 2021 edition will be crowned.