The 'Giro d'Italia' is one of the toughest cycle races in the world. It is held over a three week period and covers nearly 3,500 kilometres over mostly challenging terrain. Along with the 'Tour de France' and the 'Vuelta a Espana' it is one of Cycling's prestigious 'Grand Tours'.
The 'Giro d'Italia' has a long history. The first race was held in 1909. It started and finished in Milan and took place over eight stages, covering 2,448 kilometres. Of the 127 riders who started the race only 49 finished and the winner, Luigi Ganna, received his prize money from donations made by one of the casinos in San Remo.
Since then the race has been held every year, apart from the war years. The first 47 races all took place entirely within Italy. In 1965, the race started in San Marino and since then, there have been a further 10 races that have started outside Italy. The most recent was 2014, when the race started in Belfast. From time to time, the start or finish points of stages can take part in other countries, and on a few occasions, a whole stage has been raced outside Italy.
The 2015 race will start in San Lorenzo al Mare, Liguria on May 9th. Over 21 day-long stages, the race will make its way down the Tyrrhenian coast to San Giorgio del Sannio, south of Naples, before returning along the Adriatic coast to the Dolomites, passing through the Alps to the French border, before turning back to the finish in Milan on the 21st May.
Each stage is timed, and the overall winner is the rider with the lowest aggregate score at the end of the race. As the race progresses through the stages, the race leader has the privelege of wearing the Giro's distinctive Pink Jersey. As well as an overall winner, there are other contests within the Giro, including: sprinters, climbers, young riders and teams.