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Giro d'Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan
Giro boss wants more spectacle for pro cycling
Angelo Zomegnan, the director of the Giro d'Italia, has directed harsh criticism towards the International Cycling Union (UCI) for permitting the Tour of California to be run at the same time as the Italian race, calling the current racing calendar "insane".
Comparing cycling with other sports, he said that was an "insult" that the two stage races were being held at the same time. "It's the fruit of an insane calendar," Zomegnan told Swiss Le Temps when asked how he felt about the rivalry between his event and the Tour of California. "There would never be two Formula 1 Grand Prix on the same date, not two Moto GP or two Grand Slams. As a consequence, this concomitance is an insult.
"But it is also insane to organise two races in Canada [GP de Québec, GP de Montréal - ed.] just two weeks before the World Championships in Melbourne, after which the riders finish off their season in Europe. But there's much talk about the jet lag that a Giro start in Washington would imply!"
RCS Sport, the organisers of the Giro, are currently working on a possible Tour start in Washington, D.C. in 2012. Zomegnan said plans for the project are coming along well and fit perfectly with his objective of adding more spectacle and glamour to the event.
"Cycling needs to appeal more. While the Tour is the greatest cycling event, I want the Giro to be the most sophisticated, the most glamorous. [Taking the race start to Washington] is something that has never been done. The history of the Giro is made of of special moments, like the finish in Venice in 1978. We will solve the logistical problems. At the moment, the preparations are half-way. If this start becomes true, then it will be in 2012."
Zomegnan hopes that US president Barrack Obama will agree to personally assist the Giro start in Washington. "Can you imagine president Obama giving the jersey to Bradley Wiggins, for example? Which other sports event could have the president of the United States hand a pink jersey to the winner?" he said, before expressing further thoughts on how to internationalise the sport, especially in the United States.
"We have to re-model cycling events to fit other cultures. They have to be made more spectacular, with finishes around 6pm, night-time racing, inner city circuits. The average American knows that the NBA events are decisive only during the last three minutes, so how can he understand an event based on a start and a finish? The Americans want speed, energy and novelty - which traditional cycling lacks. Europe is traditional, while other countries cultivate modernism, like the United States."
But organising the Grand Tour start in the US capital is just one of many projects of the Giro. "During the last two years, we have received applications from Toronto, Denmark, Spain, Monte-Carlo, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Slovakia, Russia and Germany. I never had so much demand," Zomegnan revealed, adding that world-wide TV coverage was also rapidly growing.
"In 2009, 57 channels were broadcasting the race. In 2010, they are 163."