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Giro d'Italia Closer to Coming to D.C.
The Giro d'Italia is a road bicycle racing stage race second only to Tour de France in age and prestige, and might come to D.C. for its first two stages in 2012. Above, Britain's Mark Cavendish (right) chats with Lance Armstrong. Photo via telegraph.co.uk.

The Giro d'Italia is a major road bicycle racing stage race, second only to Tour de France in age and prestige. Above, Britain's Mark Cavendish (right) chats with Lance Armstrong. Photo via telegraph.co.uk.

A D.C. stage of Giro d’Italia 2012  is looking more and more likely these days.

Yesterday, D.C. proved its ability to host a large-scale pro cycling road race as cyclists took over Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capital Criterium race, organized by the Washington Convention and Sports Authority (WCSA). The D.C. race was the fifth of nine stops on the USA CRITS pro cycling tour.

The race’s director, Washington Attorney Mark Sommers,  is also head of the U.S. stages working group of the 2012 Giro D’Italia.  For the working group, yesterday’s race was a chance to showcase Washington’s potential to host a giant pro cycling event along “America’s main street,” and help D.C. win its bid to bring the first two stages of the Giro d’Italia here in May 2012.

The Giro takes place in May – June every year and is one of the three Grand Tours, together with Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty are also leading the push to have the Giro wind through Washington’s streets.

If the bid is successful, it will mark the first time any main cycling tour has started outside of Europe. Until now, the Giro has only taken place in Italy.

And success is seeming increasingly likely. D.C. has reportedly edged ahead of other U.S. cities — including Boston, Philadelphia, and New York — that were also bidding to bring the race to their streets.

In yesterday’s race, Mayor Fenty rode for charity sporting a bright pink jersey meant to mimic the Maglia Rosa worn by the leader of the Giro.

And with regard to the Giro in D.C., Fenty is optimistic, saying “I really do envision the race coming and just sending an electric bolt through the world of cycling.”

Mark Sommers told The Washington Post that he thinks they will probably get a decision by the fall.

Professional cycling has seen dramatic gains in popularity in the United States over the past decade, thanks in large part to public affection for cycling stars like Lance Armstrong.  The sport’s popularity can translate into real gains for sustainable transport, as more and more people join in buying bicycles and hitting the streets.

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