New race director Michele Acquarone reveals his plans
The new director of the Giro d’Italia has revealed that the 2012 edition of the race will have an easier route and include fewer transfers, after this year’s testing route sparked tension, controversy and even protests by the riders and teams.
The official route presentation for the 2012 ‘Corsa Rosa’ will be held on Sunday October 16, the day after the Tour of Lombardy and two days before the route of the 2012 Tour de France is unveiled in Paris.
Following the problems and disputes at this year’s race, Angelo Zomegnan has been replaced by Michele Acquarone as race director for RCS Sport, the Milan-based media company that owns the race and a number of magazines and newspaper, including Gazzetta dello Sport. He has retained most of the key staff that organise the race and is building a more harmonious team.
The 95th edition of the Giro d’Italia will begin in Denmark before a transfer back to Italy for the rest of the three-week race. The route is likely to include mountain stages to Campitello Matese in the south, Abetone in the central Apennines and possibly a dirt road stage that finishes in the centre of Siena. The big mountain finish could be in Cervinia, in the Alps, before the final week in the Dolomites. The Giro is expected to finish in Milan with a time trial.
“My ideal Giro would be like the 2010 race: it was a hard Giro, as a Grand Tour has to be, but it was balanced. This year’s race wasn’t,” Acquarone recently told Italian magazine Tuttobici.
“This year’s race was difficult right from the start. The transfers were very complicated and you could feel the tension at the start in Turin. The tragic death of Wouter Weylandt was a terrible moment and naturally overshadowed the rest of the race. I think we handled it all well but it was a traumatic experience.”
The new man in charge
Acquarone comes from a marketing background, He was born in San Remo, where he grow up watching the finish of the race every year; he then worked as a waiter in New York, a tennis coach and even as a DJ for a radio station before studying at the prestigious Bocconi University in Milan. He began working for RCS in 1999 and massively boosted income by selling DVDs and other items with editions of Gazzetta dello Sport.
He has little direct experience of organising major races but knows he can count on the likes of Mauro Vegni and former riders Stefano Allocchio and Alessandro Gianetti to look after the technical details of the race.
“Zomegnan is and remains a talented person but even without Angelo, RCS Sport can do a great job. It’s the team that is important,” Acquarone said.
“When I was asked who can we replace Zomegnan with, I replied: “We might be a man down but we can work more and better. Trust me, the team is in place.
“I think Angelo did a great job at rebuilding the prestige and importance of Italian cycling. He made people listen. It’ll be difficult for me to follow in his footsteps. However perhaps one thing I have to accuse him of is that he made too many enemies. I prefer to get on with people and negotiate. I don’t think that life is just black and white. Most of the time it’s different shades of grey. Of course I’m not afraid to make decisions.”
Acquarone knows that one of his biggest problems in 2012 will be attracting high profile riders to the Giro d’Italia. New world champion Mark Cavendish loves the Giro but this year’s winner Alberto Contador has already said he will not be back.
“We’re not underestimating the problem and we’ll try to secure as good as a cast as possible,” he said. “The Tour is the Tour but the Giro has its own history and appeal. The Tour is the race in everyone’s minds but the Giro is the race in everyone’s heart.”