A new stage race in Italy could see the return of professional racing to Sicily, with regional politicians keen to create a Giro di Sicilia to help promote tourism on the often-troubled island at the toe of the Italian peninsula.
RCS Sport - the organisers of the Giro d’Italia - are in talks with regional officials, with a slot in early April expected for the proposed four-day stage race.
Some media in Sicily have suggested the race could be created for 2019 between April 3-6 but this would need approval from the UCI and leave just three months to put it in place. The race is far more likely to happen in 2020, with Sicily also a candidate for the start of the Giro d’Italia in 2021.
Sicily once hosted early-season races such as the Settimana Siciliana, the Trofeo Pantalica and the Giro dell'Etna to give riders some early racing. However, races such as the Tour Down Under in Australia and the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina now offer riders a chance to train and race in the warm weather of the southern hemisphere.
An early April date would clash with the cobbled Classics but could offer an alternative race to Grand Tour riders and stage race riders as they prepare for the Itzulia Basque Country WorldTour race and even the Giro d’Italia.
The race is likely to attract Sicilian riders such as Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and be part of the season-long Ciclismo Cup series of races in Italy.
"We're working so that Sicily can return to host stages of the Giro d’Italia next year, with a bigger role in 2021. We think that major sporting events can represent a great way to show off Sicily," Nello Musumeci, the regional governor of Sicily, told the Italian news agency ANSA.
The Giro di Sicilia would strengthen RCS Sport’s portfolio of races, coming between Milan-San Remo in late March and the Giro d’Italia in May. Head of Cycling at RCS Sport Mauro Vegni was the race director at the 1994 World Championships and is keen to organise the new race.
"It’s a project we're evaluating. Contact with the local authorities is well underway. Now it’s up to the politicians to decide things," Vegni said.