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Il Giro v. Le Tour

OK, everyone knows Le Tour de France is now and will always be THE race of races. But that doesn't mean we can't find ways to compare No. 2 to No. 1 and see who comes out ahead in other, less meaningful ways. Also, below is a partial list of comparisons; I invite all others to add to the list and make verdicts.

Since things are getting crowded on the main page I'll do this on the Flip:

  • Competition: Campionissimi v. Galacticos

The only serious note on this post... so the Pro Tour hasn't exactly saved the Giro from the intramural scrum it has been for a decade or two? Once upon a time Tour heroes like Indurain and Hinault and LeMond came to Italy to win. But while the Giro will always fall just short, the comparison could be closer... if Italy weren't producing so many great cyclists. Face it: home teams have big advantages in grand tours, and Italy almost always fields a formidable home team... while French racers have made the Tour available to any foreigner who wishes. If you're Joe International Cyclist, do you want to go take on all of Italy, or wait til July to duke it out with a select handful of outsiders?

Verdict: Le Tour... for now.

  • Aesthetics: Pink or Yellow?

Kind of a hobson's choice. But the pink has grown on me, and actually looks kinda cool with just about any Pro Tour kit that isn't red.

Verdict: Il Giro

  • Wine: Chianti or Bordeaux?

As a grandson of Italy, I've tried for a long time to like Italian wine. Ain't happening. Yes, everyone can gin up a nice bottle now and then, but speaking in broad brushstrokes, there's a reason they wrap Italian wines in straw. But don't ask me what it is. Anyway...

Verdict: Le Tour

  • Crowds: The Nation or the World?

Nobody can top the Tour for crowd size, enthusiasm (albeit largely imported from across the Spanish border), and drunks. The Giro's crowds are smaller and more manageable, though I'm confident it has its share of drunks. Italians are said to harbor the most love for their race... Still, Le Tour has given the world the sport's most intense fan-images, where riders count on the sea of flesh parting just in time to let them turn the pedals again.

Verdict: Le Tour

  • Scenery: Pyrenees or Dolomites?

The Tour has its monuments, but it also insists on long, flat stages across Normandy, Bordeaux, and the North with nuthin much going on. This may be overly subjective, but almost every inch of Italy looks interesting to me. Look at this year: Sardinia, Salerno (Napoli), Tivoli (Rome), Tuscany, the Riviera... and that's all before the mountain stages. Also, seeing them racing on roads cut through towering snowbanks is awfully dramatic. This year's edition will be non-stop postcards.

Verdict: Il Giro

  • Randomness: Nature vs. Nurture

Well, the Giro is occasionally undone by foul weather beyond the likes of what the Tour would ever experience. French audiences, however, have a knack for making things interesting, blocking the road, punching Merckx in the kidney, stuff like that. And there's no Italian equivalent of riders sitting down in protest, a decadal event in Le Tour.

Verdict: Le Tour

More categories anyone??