The Giro: Best of the Grand Tours?

[editor's note, by chris] TC tries to curry favor with the Italians who run this site...

While this is tantamount to admitting an appreciation for the Back Street Boys, I'm here to announce that the Giro is my favorite Grand Tour - and the best of them all. From where I sit, its beautiful countryside, Italian sensibilities and the raw passion of the tifosi easily eclipses the harder-edged, more-commercial TdF.

I love everything about this race -- even its somewhat checkered history, where partisan race officials and organizers saw fit to gift overall victories to Italian legends Moser in '84 and (to a lesser extent) Saronni in 1979.

Plus, the Giro might be home to one of the most dramatic wins in modern Grand Tour history -- Hampsten's win in some of the most abominable conditions ever seen in a grand tour.

Then there's Hinault's underrated triumph in 1982, when his weak Renault team consistently left him to fend for himself against a very strong Bianchi squad (where Tommy Prim could have won but for some tough luck), and his legendary ride over the Stelvio to capture the victory in 1980.

Plus, it's hard to overestimate the difficulty of this year's Giro, which is objectively far tougher than the TdF or Vuelta.

Finally, a quick glance at the start list suggests the 2006 edition should be as wild as an Animal House kegger; Italians DiLuca, Cunego, Simoni and Basso will be scrapping for the overall win (most don't understand the value placed on this race by Italian riders). And let's not forget the usual cast of suspects hunting for stage wins.

Naturally, I'll be out of town for the first week, but you can be sure I'll be glued to every morning once I'm back.


PS - If I'd known the powers behind the site were Italian, I would have dropped a few more names, like Coppi, Bartali, and even Dino Buzzati, author of the best (and recently translated into English) journas of a bike race ever in his masterpiece about the '49 Giro.