Sicily is the frontrunner to host the start of the 2021 Giro d’Italia after the island’s regional government confirmed its financial backing for the venture and for the Giro di Sicilia, which is due to return to the calendar in April.
According to reports in the Italian press over the weekend, the regional government of Sicily has set aside more than €10 million from its territorial development fund to finance both the 2021 Grande Partenza and the first three editions of the rebooted Giro di Sicilia.
Tuttobici reports that some €6.2 has been allocated towards hosting the start of the 2021 Giro on the island, while the regional government will also pay €1.2 million per annum towards the Giro di Sicilia for the next three years. The Giro di Sicilia will be run by Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport.
The Giro has started in Sicily on seven previous occasions, most recently in 2008, when Christian Vande Velde took the first maglia rosa following a team time trial in Palermo. It remains to be seen which Sicilian city would host the 2021 start. Messina (1930), Palermo (1949, 1986 and 2008) Catania (1976), Taormina (1989) and Agrigento (1999) have all hosted the Grande Partenza in the past.
The Giro has visited Sicily in each of the past two years, with summit finishes atop Mount Etna on each occasion. There were three Sicilian stages at the 2018 Giro, with finishes also at Caltagirone and Santa Ninfa. According to La Repubblica, the local tourist board lobbied the regional government to allot funding to the Giro d’Italia and Giro di Sicilia, citing a study carried out by the University of Catania into the benefits provided by the Giro’s visit in 2018.
This year’s Giro will start in Bologna, while Marseille has been touted as a possible host of the Grande Partenza in 2020.
Last month, the Italian Professional Cycling League confirmed that the UCI had approved plans for the Giro di Sicilia to re-launch as a 2.1 event in 2019. The four-day race, which will be run by RCS Sport, has been added to the UCI calendar and will take place from April 3-6, though the route and competing teams have yet to be announced.
The original Giro di Sicilia last took place in 1977, though the Settimana Siciliana later occupied a place on the calendar between 1984 and 1994. That race later moved to Sardinia and then to Emilia-Romagna. Since 2001, the event has been known as the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali. The 2019 edition of the 2.1 race is scheduled for March 27-31