Malliot Blanc Column by Toby Miles - Why I love the Giro d'Italia

PUBLISHED: 12:31 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:38 21 May 2018

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

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Read Toby Miles' Malliot Blanc Column as the 18-year-old aspiring professional cyclist explains his love for Italy's version of the Tour de France.

Toby in action racing in Israel. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.comToby in action racing in Israel. Credit: rent-a-bike-israel.com

It’s Grand Tour season which means even more of my day is dedicated to cycling - though instead of extra time on the bike, I’ve been watching 176 world class athletes blitz their way from Jerusalem to Rome via the best roads Italy has to offer.

With less than a week to go in the 101st Giro d’Italia - my favourite of the three Grand Tours has been as fascinating as ever.

Michael Matthews celebrates after riding into the race lead, pulling on the iconic pink jersey of the Giro d'Italia. Credit: PAMichael Matthews celebrates after riding into the race lead, pulling on the iconic pink jersey of the Giro d'Italia. Credit: PA

If I had to choose between Il Giro, Le Tour de France in July and La Vuelta a Espana in August, the Italian interpretation of the 21-stage format is narrowly the one I’d most like to ride one day.

Each tour has a unique character but the Giro’s unmistakable aesthetic, intricate history and passionate ‘tifosi’ make for a sporting event which presents the very best of the hardest sport in the world.

The riders get ready for a start at the Giro d'Italia in Naples. Credit: PAThe riders get ready for a start at the Giro d'Italia in Naples. Credit: PA

Grand Tours are like the World Cup. The location, scenery and supporters create the distinctive flavour we remember each one for. The 2010 South Africa championship, with its evening matches lit orange by the falling sun, vuvuzelas droning and sweat dripping from the players, is burned into my memory as much as Frank Lampard’s devastating ghost goal.

However, rather than just being confined to a purpose built stadium, television studio and the occasional sweeping helicopter shot - cycling’s Grand Tour’s have diverse regions, mountain ranges, ancient villages and (in this Giro) deserts to characterise their events - with each edition revisiting carefully scheduled iconic battlegrounds of the past.

Fan favourite Svein Tuft celebrates in the leader's maglia rosa during a Giro D'Italia. Credit: PAFan favourite Svein Tuft celebrates in the leader's maglia rosa during a Giro D'Italia. Credit: PA

Mountains like the Zoncolan - which Chris Froome won atop on Saturday - are feared because of stories passed down through the peloton of terrible suffering on its unrelenting gradients. Chris Froome himself, after he rode it for the first time, said he had no desire to return before Saturday’s suprise win.

The Grand Tours wear the body down and in the final week you see exactly what some of the world’s very best have got. That’s what excites me about the Grand Tours. Studying rider throughout the race, looking for a sign of strength or weakness, trying to see who has the upper hand.

Chris Froome at the pre Giro press conference in Israel. Credit: PAChris Froome at the pre Giro press conference in Israel. Credit: PA

The idea of being part of - and see from the inside - an event with all the Giro’s history, makes me determined to keep pushing to see if I can make it there. For now though, I’ll be on the edge of my seat each day watching Simon Yates try to hold off Tom Dumoulin all the way to the finish in Rome.

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