Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) after winning the Giro d'Italia's pink jersey in 2008
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Experienced team determined to make American dream happen
The 2012 Giro d'Italia Working Group continues to collaborate with Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport on bringing the Italian Grand Tour to the US capital of Washington DC in the future.
"Once it was determined there was interest on both sides, we've had exploratory discussions regarding the viability and logistics," said Robin Morton, representative of the 2012 Giro d'Italia Working Group. "This idea has generated a lot of buzz and interest and we are continuing to meet with both RCS and the DC Agencies. We are working as the facilitators but the ultimate decision rests with RCS."
Morton is the CEO of g4 Productions, an event management company owned by three women including Alice Armstrong and Kristen Reiss. The three women parted ways with well-known management company Threshold Sports to combine their years of event planning experience and launched g4 Productions in 2005.
Morton's roots in professional cycling reach as far back as the mid 1980s when she managed the US-based professional men's team Gianni Motta Linea MD. She was the first female to manage a men's professional racing team and was responsible for taking the first American team to the Giro d'Italia in 1984. It was there that she met current director of the Giro d'Italia for RCS Sports, Angelo Zomengan, who was a journalist for Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport at the time.
"He reached out to me after seeing the PR and photos for the 2008 ING Capital Criterium on the g4 Productions website," said Morton. "I contacted Mark Sommers, who hired g4 to handle logistics for that event. I knew Mark was very active in the DC cycling community and has access to Mayor Adrian Fenty."
Sommers, promoter of the ING Capital Criterium, joined forces with g4 Productions and is now the chair of the newly formed 2012 Giro d'Italia Working Group. They are heavily involved in the planning process of the proposed Giro prologue and stage one circuit races to be held in the Washington DC vicinity.
"With any event you need the full support of the venue/city where it will be held, especially something as big in scope as the Giro," she continued. "An organiser needs to be able to interface with the various departments like police, fire, public works, department of transportation and needs the support and co-operation of the city to do so."
The 2012 Giro d'Italia Working Group tasks include forming alliances between RCS Sports and Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, the DC Metro Sports Sport Alliance, Tourist and Convention Center Authority for hotels and other services.
According to Morton, they are currently studying the cost of running the two stages in Washington DC. Aside from travel-related expenses, the costs will be consistent with the cost of running urban-based events such as the International Cycling Championships held in Philadelphia, which cost nearly two million dollars.
"There are additional expenses needed to manage large spectator crowds, which is something that is encountered in Washington with some regularity," Morton said. "DC also has the ability to lodge the event entourage and visiting fans. We feel it's an exciting concept but as far as how it would be received I am certain the idea will have its supporters and its share of detractors as well. Starting in the US is an idea that the Tour and the Giro have discussed for many years."
Morton illustrated the marketing and media opportunities that exist for the Giro, Washington DC and cycling in America in general if Washington DC hosts the start of the Giro. The co-ordination involved in hosting an event the size of a Grand Tour stage in the USA might seem like a daunting task; the biggest set back seems to revolve around travel logistics for the athletes and event staff, however.
"The obvious negative is the travel and logistics for teams," Morton said. "Perhaps some purists feel that the Giro should remain in Italy but it has already started outside of the country, albeit in Europe, several times. This year there will be three stages in the Netherlands."
"There are challenges but, it's a very exciting concept."
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