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Valter eyes first maglia rosa of 2022 Giro d'Italia on home soil

Giro dItalia 2021 104th Edition 8th stage Foggia Guardia Sanframondi 170 km 15052021 Attila Valter HUN Groupama FDJ photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021
Valter in the Giro leader's jersey at the 2021 race (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The start of the Giro d’Italia in Hungary next year is going to be "really big" for the country, Attila Valter has said.

Speaking ahead of the Giro d’Italia Criterium Dubai on Saturday, the Groupama-FDJ rider said: "I received a thousand messages from people this week about it; if it's only the people who wrote to me that will be on the streets next year, it's already a lot. 

"I think we have a good programme, for me as a rider but also for the Giro in terms of advertising and making it more viral in Hungary. I think it will be nice because 99 per cent of people have never seen a bike race before. 

"If the Tour passes your house every year, you might find something else to do, but if it's one time then it's huge. It will be really big.”

Valter, the only Hungarian currently racing in the WorldTour, wore the leader's maglia rosa for three stages of the Giro this year. The Grande Partenza in Hungary was originally scheduled for 2020, but was postponed because of the pandemic.

He explained that it benefited from this delay: "The people from RCS and the people from Hungary said that it was really lucky it was postponed. Two years ago it would be a nice race, and have an impact, but I think this year will be completely different, in 2022. There are so many people involved and so many people watch.

"It's getting closer, but we already had one Giro where the stages were already announced. It was already feeling really real. But I hadn't done a Giro before, I hadn't worn the pink jersey. I was fully motivated, and of course I am now. I hope it's zero per cent chance that it will be cancelled again."

The route of the three stages in Hungary were announced by Giro organisers RCS Sports on Wednesday. Stage 1 features an uphill final in Visegrád, stage 2 will be a 9.2km individual time trial in the heart of Budapest, and stage 3 is set up to be a bunch sprint to Balatonfüred.

Valter said that he was confident that the opening stage would favour him, giving him hope of pulling on the pink jersey again.

"I know the climb [on stage 1], I think it's a really good stage for me. Then people start to say that no it's not for me, but I'm training on the climb and I know it's for me. 

"It's not too long but it's not short, so it's not for a sprinter or someone. I don't know where the KOM is, but it will be six, seven, eight minutes. It's quite steep at the start and if you just hit it it's a nice climb."

"I know it really well and next year I will train a lot on it. It's not too far from my house, like maybe 50km, so when I have a longer rider I can do circuits there. You can go up one way, come down the other side along the river and do loops. We already had the national championships on that climb. 

"One time is not like 10 times, but it is hard. I think it's a climb for [Julian] Alaphilippe or someone, but if I can manage my year well and decide my programme, I can prepare for that. I think it will suit me. I have to say this, because if it started with the third stage or the TT I cannot do something big. This first stage could be nice."

It is also hoped that the Grande Partenza will inspire a generation of cyclists in Hungary. Valter said that he was "optimistic" that the Hungarian government and the Giro organisers had plans in place.

"When the Giro is knocking in May and June, all the kids are on summer break, and everyone wants to ride their bike, but if there is no possibility after one year everyone will forget," he said.

"It's not my work, but I will do my best to make them motivated and give advice on what I know from the outside. I think they have handled it well, but we need to be ready for that bump, we need more coaches and everything. Then I think it could be the changing point."

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Adam Becket is the staff writer for Procycling magazine. Prior to covering the sport of cycling, he wrote about ecclesiastical matters for the Church Times and politics for Business Insider. He has degrees in history and journalism. A keen cyclist himself, Adam’s favourite race is the Tour of Flanders or Strade Bianche, and he can't wait to go to the Piazza del Campo for the end of the race one day.