25 days until the Giro d'Italia - and here's a fact for every one of them
It is 25 days until the Giro d'Italia, the world's second biggest bike race, gets under way in Northern Ireland. To celebrate the milestone, we've wheeled out 25 facts about the Giro
1 Giro d'Italia started in May 1909 as an idea to increase sales of the La Gazzetta dello Sport, a local pink-coloured paper, and this year marks the 97th staging of the race.
2 Since 1960 the place of departure has changed each year. France, Austria, Belgium and Greece have all hosted the Giro, with Northern Ireland the latest to join the list.
3 The overall winner is determined by his total time throughout the three weeks. He doesn't even need to win a daily 'stage' as long as his total time beats everyone else.
4 The Giro d'Italia is considered part of the so-called triple crown of cycling, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
5 This year's Giro will feature almost 200 riders, including Australian veteran, Cadel Evans, and two of Ireland's biggest talents, Dan Martin and Nicholas Roche – the son of 1987 winner, Stephen.
6 The cyclists will travel a gruelling 426.7km during three days of competition, taking them from Belfast, through the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route and the historic city of Armagh en route to Dublin.
7 A huge worldwide audience of 800 million people from 174 countries will tune in to watch the competition.
8 Belfast City Hall and the Ulster Hall will illuminate pink for the event. Hundreds of businesses are also planning to go pink to celebrate Giro – from tractors to buildings and confectionery to fish and chips.
9 A giant pink Giro jersey will be laid on the Dunluce Castle site as the cyclists make their way along the Causeway Coastal Route.
10 Cycling is already a well-established sport in Northern Ireland, with over 70 cycle clubs across the region.
11 Stephen Roche became the first Irishman to win Giro d'italia in 1987 – in the same year he also took victory in the Tour de France and World Championship.
12 Three riders have won the race five times – Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx.
13 'Grande Partenza' means big start in Italian – and that's what it is known as in every country. There have been 10 non-Italian starts to date.
14 Ever since 1931, the overall leader of the Giro d'Italia wears the maglia rosa (pink jersey), which corresponds with La Gazzetta dello Sport's pink-coloured paper (the yellow jersey given to the overall leader of the Tour de France is done for similar reasons).
15 Riders in this year's Giro will cycle a total distance of almost 3,450km.
16 Some 3,161 riders have taken part in the 96 previous editions.
17 The Giro d'Italia was suspended on only two occasions in its 104-year history – because of World War I and II – in 19150-18 and 1941-45.
18 It wasn't until Stephen Roche's win in 1987 that an English speaker took top honours.
19 In 1940 Fausto Coppi won at the tender age of 20 – the youngest ever winner. The eldest winner Fiorenzo Magni, stormed the Giro at the ripe old age of 35, the third time he won the event.
20 The Cima Coppi is the highest altitude reached by cyclists during the Giro d'Italia. It was established in 1965, and is named after cycling icon Fausto Coppi. This year it is Passo dello Stelvio in Northern Italy.
21 The 1987 winner, Stephen Roche, only learned to ride a bike at the age of 13 and worked in a Dublin dairy.
22 Cyclists need to eat between 6,000 and 7,000 calories per day to cope with the physical demands put on their bodies.
23 Giro d'Italia is on Twitter with 205,000 followers.
24 The Giro does not go by without controversy. In 1922, a rider took a wheel from his team-mate and although being penalised 25 minutes for the action, he still went on to win the event that year.
25 The Giro has been won by an Italian rider on 68 occasions. Belgium is second (seven wins) with France (six) third on the international roll of honour. The United Kingdom has never won it.