Let's face it, it's time to show what we're made of. Everyone reading this site is doing so because they really love cycling (or are related to one of the editors). Cycling is the world's greatest participation sport. The Giro d'Italia is supposedly for sale, for pennies on the dollar. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
I get it, it's fun to hang out in Richmond or to linger in the live threads making witticisms about geology and Carlos Barredo's wheel attack. It's understandable to be content just chortling "ho ho Elvisgoat! You sure showed Just Joshin Yu there!" That's fine. It's been fun. But now, now we have a chance to step up into the big time. Now, we can buy the Giro d'Italia.
Can we? I'm doing my Michael Bluth check here, but I think the answer is yes. Depending on whom you believe, the current owner of the race, RCS, has lost more or less all the money. Their debt is infinity +1 Euros. Someday a report will emerge on exactly why this is, and hopefully it will be loaded with references to sex, prosecco, and Mario Cipollini. But until then, I'm not that interested in the details. Just know that they are motivated sellers. With few to no buyers lining up, we can get this thing for pennies on the dollar. We offer them $50,000... who says no? Nobody does.
Should we? Consider this.
How Much Work Would It Be to Own the Giro?
A lot. Planning the route and handing out giant prosecco bottles is the glamorous part; behind the scenes there is a small army of people to move around from one place to the next, every day, for three weeks. And it has to be done effectively or they will never stop complaining about you. "My pasta was overcooked!" "It's too cold in the press room!" "That guy elbowed me in the photographers' pit!" Nobody, no matter how responsible, kind, hard-working they may be, is in a good mood after three weeks of being on the move. That's the reality. It's the world's most grueling sport, for everyone associated with it.
But! You're in Italy! I've been trying to plan a vacation to Italy for the past few months. Do you know how much money it costs just to be in Italy? A lot! But if you're running the Giro, you get to be in Italy the whole time (more or less) and chances are you don't even have to pay your own way!
So suck it up. It'd be fun. And we can hire a few hundred college-age unpaid interns to do all the tedious stuff. We can pay them in pink tee shirts.
Could We Make Money Owning the Giro?
Of course! First, we would have a fair number of Americans involved, and if we know anything about running a business, it's how to leverage the popularity of our business into a raid on the taxpayer. Well, almost nothing in Italy is as popular as the Giro, and if we can't monetize that through a few well-placed campaign contributions, then you can take our social security cards and sell them to Nigerian hackers.
Also, I bet there are loads of inefficiencies in how the Giro currently does business that we could fix. European cycling is held prisoner to its traditions, and only a group like ours could help them break free. For example, I hear that one of the big expenses in a grand tour is that the race organization secures hotels for all the teams. Well, who the hell stays in hotels anymore? They're boring and grossly overpriced, and you're forced to eat in restaurants or -- shudder -- the hotel lobby.
Under our leadership the Giro would put together its own booking service, Giro BnB, where every team gets online and reserves space in the various apartments, guesthouses and vacation homes that we round up at each host city. With most online vacation rentals, the owners are happy to be getting anything back, and the prices are never more than about a third of the cost of a hotel. For their space to be listed on GiroBnB.com, we would require a further 25% discount, in exchange for some sort of perk, like a chance to meet Paolo Savoldelli, or having Davide Cassani record their voicemail greeting.
How Awesome Would Our Giro Be?
Very, very awesome. First, we would do the American race start that has long been rumored. What's stopping the Giro from this? A powerful riders' union? Lack of financial incentive? Not Italian enough? Pshaw. Here's how you do it -- three days, three stages, and a double-rest day spent getting back to Italia.
Stage 1: Brooklyn TTT
A team time trial event starting in Bay Ridge, heading out and back across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge before winding along through the borough to Park Slope, then over the Brooklyn Bridge and finishing on Mulberry Street in Little Italy.
Stage 2: Ellis Island - Atlantic City, 200km (approx)
Ellis Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge now, so you could stage an incredible visual of the Giro d'Italia, the emissary of Italy, rolling out (neutralized) from a place with unspeakable meaning to people on both sides of the pond. From there, you can hit the gas, roll through Hoboken past Frank Sinatra's old house, swing west through the surprisingly lovely Newark Central Park and out Bloomfield Avenue toward North Caldwell, passing one pizza place after another. Then head down the shore for a sprint finish in AC. Pretty flat and easy day, unless the crosswinds hit.
Stage 3: AC - Philadelphia/Manayunk Wall, 130km (approx)
Another tour of gastronomic Italian America, with a trip out to Trenton to cross the Delaware River (what the hell). The Giro and Philly were made for each other like garlic and olive oil, and almost any route through there would be a smashing success. Add in a Montjuic-type mini-hilltop finish for competitiveness's sake, as well as quick access to jumbo jets bound for Rome, and you can call this entire thing a massive success.
Whatever happens from there will scarcely matter. It'll take a great competition in the Dolomites for people to stop talking about the first three stages sometime before the end of the Giro.
In other years, we can start in Belgium and ride the pre-2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen route, re-creating the successes of Fiorenzo Magni and Alessandro Ballan -- as well as winning Belgians to our side. Oh! Which reminds me!
Can you imagine how much easier it would be to run a race without having to pay enough "tribute" to the UCI to run the champagne fountain in Aigle for a year? I can. And my plan is to basically co-opt everyone but the French with Giro stages and other inducements that would make them take our side in the ensuing warfare.
Look, sports are for the masses -- it's the masses who make the wheels go round. So why should something like the Giro be held hostage by a small group of decadent power brokers trying to score free housing in the Vaudois Alps? Cycling federations only rule by some sort of unchallenged agreement, and as soon as people disagree, they're out. Well, obviously in Italy you could get 99% support for tossing over the UCI. With my Flanders gambit you could get another 90% of a very vocal population on your side. You could go from one country to the next co-opting local support for dumping the UCI for any reason -- or no reason at all -- because who is on their side? People in Aigle? I bet their approval rating in Western Switzerland is up there with Donald Trump's, and that's even before my planned alliance with CERN which would lock down the region for us. The UCI would be left hoping for help from Qatar or the Chinese, their only true allies.
As for the French, the Giro does not mess with France. They could join the fight of their own accord, and past history says they might. But that's for them to determine.
OK, that's just a few ideas. Who's with me? Also, who has some money? Let's do this!