Friday, February 26, 2010

Giro d'Italia Considers Start in Washington DC, Part VIII


From DCIST.com regarding the meeting in Washington D.C. last night at the Italian Embassy:

"City officials, cycling aficionados and business leaders gathered in the soaring atrium of the Italian Embassy in Washington Thursday evening to celebrate what they see as a historic opportunity -- bringing the 2012 Giro d'Italia to the District.

Since last November, rumors have circulated that promoters of the Giro, one of the three grand tours of professional cycling, have eyed the District as a location for a prologue and first stage of the race. As local race promoters have sketched out possible routes, Mayor Adrian Fenty met with race director Aneglo Zomegnan last December to further push the bid along. And while yesterday's event was merely held to update supporters on their progress and corral possible sponsors from the business community, it was clear from the event's slogan -- "History is made but once" -- that officials see the Giro's possible start in D.C. as a huge boost to the local economy and the city's international standing.

Greg O'Dell, chief executive of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, argued that the Giro's coming to D.C. would be like few other sporting events the city has ever hosted. "The fact that it will bring a lot of economic impact was what made us even more excited about doing this," he said, pointing out that the 2009 start of the Vuelta a España in Amsterdam netted the city 25 million euros from hotel stays and restaurant visits. O'Dell compared the city's bid for the Giro to their desire to see the World Cup come back.
Mayor Fenty, wearing a trademark pink Giro tie (the Tour de France has the famed maillot jaune, while the Giro has the maglia rosa), spoke more broadly of the impact the race could have on the city's global reputation. "It would mean two things. It would help highlight D.C. as a great place for cycling [and] for a long time after, D.C. will be seen as one of the premiere places to ride a bike in the entire world, which is fantastic because it fits with everything we're trying to do in Washington D.C. -- get people out of cars, use bicycles to get around. We think this will be really big for all of those priorities," he said.

We asked Mark Sommers, a local race promoter who has played a central role in promoting the District to Giro officials, how the partnership between the city and race organizers came to be. "[Giro officials] had seen the photographs and the website of the fabulous finish of [the 2008 Capital Crit] framed by the U.S. Capitol, so they contacted us about the event. We had been thinking in turn, 'Why not Washington, D.C. for a grand tour?' That was the synergy that really started the discussions."

Sommers also noted that stage routes would include the city's most famous sites, many of which were inspired or made by Italian artists and architects. "There are certain monuments, buildings and structures that we will want to integrate into the course that showcase the grandeur and beauty of the nation's capital and also the various structures that Italians and Italian-Americans have contributed," he said, mentioning the Watergate, the Memorial Bridge, the Italian Embassy and the U.S. Capitol.

As for when the District may get final word on the Giro, Fenty noted that it's really up to the Giro d'Italia deciding group.

"I think they like the city, but they have to run the final processes, so we've got our fingers crossed. It looks good but we're taking nothing for granted," Fenty said."

Photo (accompanied articel): New York Knicks' Danilo Gallinari, Mark Sommers, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, Angelo Zomegnan and Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata

cyclingnews.com also reported, "Under the banner ‘History is made but once’, a pre-recorded presentation video emphatically stated that the Giro d'Italia would start in Washington in 2012, but the chair of the working group responsible for the bid, Mark Sommers, and Giro director Angelo Zomegnan were more cautious in their pronouncements. Zomegnan expressed optimism about bringing his country's biggest race to the US capital, promising to prepare "something special" and to bring "great days to a great town". Speaking with Cyclingnews, he said that the city is one of three bidding for the 2012 departure, but Washington is "the front runner".

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