On Friday afternoon, the Giro d'Italia festivities kicked off with a unique opening ceremony. 198 riders took a few ferry boats for a gathering on an aircraft carrier owned by the Italian navy and called the Garibaldi. It's all about the "hero of the two worlds" at the Giro this year.
Garibaldi is the captain who unified Italy was born 200 years ago. The start of stage one is located on the small island of Caprera where he is buried. Stage 5 will start from Teano, close to the place where he met King Vittorio Emmanuele II. The race will visit Bergamo, the hometown of 216 of the 1090 soldiers who followed Garibaldi.
Stage 10 will visit Quarto, the rock where all the "red shirts" and their captain launched their campaign on their way to Sicily. Because this anniversary is being widely celebrated in Italy this year, the founder of Tirreno-Adriatico, former journalist Lillo Pietropaoli, came out of retirement, aged 76, to help forge connections between the island of Sardegna and the organizer of the Giro d'Italia, Angelo Zomegnan.
"Garibaldi means so much for the history of our country", Pietropaoli said. This name means a lot in cycling as well. In 1961, the face of Garibaldi was put on the front page of the road book of the Giro because it was the centennial of Italy, and for the past 46 years, journalists have named the precious road book 'the Garibaldi'.
Guess who makes the front page again this year.