We’re into day four of the Six Days of the Giro series, let’s talk trash.
Yes the Tour de France started a few years before the Giro and has always been credited as The Tour to win. You win the Giro, you are a stud. Win the Tour and you are a stud for life. Why is that? Is the Tour longer, tougher, more murderous, more beautiful? In the 2013 edition, the Tour is a mere 25 km longer. The number of stages are the same. The Tour has earned a prestige it will never willingly cede. The Tour is it. Teams send their best riders. No one uses the Tour to train since the world championships were moved to September.
Obviously the maglia rosa is better looking than the maillot jaune, no argument. There is no arguing about podium girls; let us never argue about podium girls. Unless they are dudes, like that overly-politically correct scene where guys were pushed onto the stage a few years back. Either go Chippendale dancers or nothing if you can’t handle beautiful women on the stage. The Giro trophy is much hipper than the Tour fruit bowl. Is a leader’s all pink bike nicer than an all yellow bike? If not tarted up too much a De Rosa pearlescent pink paint job is beautiful. The same can be said for a beautiful yellow frame, but when the hubs, spokes and everything else on it matches the paint, arguing which is nicer is a lost cause.
Is France a more beautiful country to race through? From the rider’s perspective, they might not opine. They are looking at the jersey 1.5 meters in front of them or the next hairpin corner coming up fast. Day to day they might not even know which country they are in. From the high definition helicopter shots it would be a hopeless argument: both countries are incredibly varied and beautiful, like the podium ladies. Pastries, France, café, Italy. Before the advent of traveling team chefs, riders were at the mercy of whichever overworked, disgruntled chef was employed by the hotel. The French are renown gastronomies and renown for the terrible pasta they would serve Tour racers. If one was always fueling up on pasta and rice, one was much happier in the Giro.
What the Tour defiantly has over the Giro is Paris. Yes it is a parade but what a parade route. Riding into Paris and doing laps on the Champs Élysée; that’s how you end a Grand Tour. The Giro doesn’t always end in Milan, like this year’s finish in Brescia. They know the ride around Milan is not something to always be repeating. The Italians are more inclined to send the Giro route over strade bianche, gravel and dirt passes and up viciously steep ski station goat paths. Sometimes they go too far but they deserve credit for their craziness. The Giro has unfortunately always been about long transfers. Couple that with Italian inefficiency and riders may often eat too late and sleep too little. The French can whisk teams around the country in hours on the TGV. The Tour routes are more conservative, hitting the familiar climbs, avoiding the active volcanos.
If the Tour is the big show it’s partially because more money flows there, in almost all directions. There is a long standing fight about how little of that money flows towards the riders. The Giro has started to improve the team’s TV revenue sharing. It’s a smart move, if it benefits the teams financially, they will want to always be invited, they will take it more seriously, the Giro will improve. This could eventually put both the Giro and the Vuelta on a level with the Tour. Then we would really have something to argue about.