By Gregg Deal
A proposed 2012 Giro d’Italia prologue in Washington D.C. would pass by many of the city’s landmarks, including several with symbolic meaning to Italy. Besides showcasing the city and bringing in millions of dollars in economic impact, the build-up would help Mayor Adrian Fenty — an avid cyclist — promote health, wellness and the benefits of bicycle riding.
“It fits with everything we’re trying to do in Washington D.C. to get people out of cars, using bicycles to get around and protecting the environment,” Fenty said. ” We think this will be big for all those priorities in the next two years.”
Fenty attended a “Giro Gala” presentation at the Italian Embassy in the city Thursday evening, where he and Giro officials and other notables began to drum up support for the D.C. start.
Among the attendees was New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari, who was born and raised in Italy. Gallinari perhaps summed up the feeling in the room when he told VeloNews the D.C. start is “going to be emotional.”
“(It would) mean a lot because of the great relationship between us (Italians) and between the U.S.A., especially in Washington. It’s going to be great for the history of the Giro d’Italia,” Gallinari said.
The idea for the prologue likely began with the 2008 ING Capital Criterium, which spurred a conversation between its promoter, Mark Sommers, and Giros race director Angelo Zomegnan. Sommers is now chairman of the Giro d’Italia DC 2012 Working Group.
While neither D.C. or Giro officials were ready to announce that the 2012 prologue is a done deal, Zomegnan left little doubt about his intentions when he told the group, “See you in 2012.”
The proposed 2012 race would begin on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the National Archives and close to the White House. Cyclists then would pass the FBI building, Freedom Plaza and the Ellipse before going behind the White House to the State Department, Virginia Avenue, the Watergate Hotel, Rock Creek Park and then reversing course. The route would pass over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, with its iron sculptures cast in Italy.
The event would be broadcast by NBC Universal Sports, which has an exclusive contract to show the Giro in the U.S.
Gregg Deal is the editor of the D.C. cycling blog, DistrictCycling.com.