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The troubled history of the Giro di Sicilia

27/09/2021

When Carlo Galetti won the first Giro di Sicilia in 1907, ahead of Luigi Ganna, the Giro d’Italia was still two years from coming into existence. Ganna would later win the first running of the Corsa Rosa in 1909, while Galetti would score a double win in the following two years. This is enough to make it clear that speaking of the Giro di Sicilia, the first one‑week stage race in Italy, means speaking of the history of cycling.

A race with such a glorious past should be part of the legend of this sport, rightfully and unquestionably. To get this far, however, too many pages were left blank. The time has come to reopen this book and pick up the writing. The history of the Giro di Sicilia was troubled by wars, cancellations, financial problems, and even a pandemic.

After the thrilling contest between Galetti and Ganna, probably the two greatest names in the pioneering years of Italian cycling, in 1907, Galetti won the race again in 1908, before the first cancellation in a long line. Back then, nobody undertook to organise the race continuously and consistently. Some tried, but gave up after just one year. Quite understandably, that time in history was not exactly the best one to set up any sporting event. The Giro di Sicilia was staged at irregular intervals, in 1926, 1929, 1932, 1936 and 1939, and then from 1948 to 1960 (except in 1952), with a record nine consecutive editions.

Following yet another cancellation, the race fell into oblivion. An attempt at reviving it, at least as a road event, was made in the 1970s. Despite the intent of turning it into a major classic, only two editions were held, in 1973 and in 1974. Victors Enrico Maggioni and Roger De Vlaeminck entered their names in an all too short roll of honour. After Giuseppe Saronni sealed victory in Trapani in 1977, on his first year as a Pro and with great prospects for the future, the Giro di Sicilia went into hibernation for a further 40 years and more.

The race was long buried in history books until RCS decided to bring it back to life in 2019, to take Sicily in the spotlight of the cycling scene, and more. The first running after the revival was a huge success, with many promising young riders taking centre stage. Victory went to the American Brandon McNulty, ahead of the French Guillaume Martin and of Fausto Masnada. But another unexpected snag came in the way. In 2020, a global pandemic put the race on hold, once again. There seems to be no peace.

Despite all the troubles, the Giro di Sicilia doesn’t give up. It is coming back in 2021, from September 28 to October 1. This time, it’s here to stay as long as possible, to fill in all the blank pages.

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