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The official start list of the inaugural Giro d’Italia Criterium was announced today by organisers RCS Sport at the Italy Pavilion of the Expo 2020 Dubai. Reigning Giro d’Italia champion Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) was present at a Friday press conference one day ahead of the inaugural race.
The Giro d’Italia Criterium will take place in Dubai as a the 30-lap race held on a 2.1-kilometre circuit, the course forming the shape of the Giro d’Italia’s ‘Amore Infinito’ symbol used to inspire the trophy of the Grand Tour stage race. The signature maglia rosa was presented for a 90th time this past year, earned by Bernal after 3,479.9 kilometres of racing and just one minute 29 seconds ahead of Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) who finished second overall.
“This is my first time in Dubai and tomorrow I really want to enjoy riding the Giro d’Italia Criterium and wear again the Maglia Rosa I won this year,” Bernal said in the press conference.
“To win the Giro d’Italia is one of the best moments of my career so far. Since I was young, I’ve wanted to ride the Giro. I lived for two years in Italy and really love Italian and Italians. This year I finally had the opportunity and I was incredibly happy to win. It gave me a lot of confidence after some difficult times following my victory in the Tour de France.”
Three additional riders making the start on Saturday provided insights about the one-day race – 2021 Giro points classification winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), six-time Giro stage winner and time trial World Champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), and nine-time Grand Tour stage winner Elia Viviani (Cofidis).
“To wear the Maglia Rosa in the Giro was a unique experience. I also won my first road stage at the Giro d’Italia 2020, such an incredible feeling,” said Ganna, who rode in support of his teammate Bernal this past year.
“It is great to be an Italian rider riding the Giro with the fans that recognise you and call your name from along the road. Tomorrow will be a first for the Giro and for many riders: we are in a special place and it will be spectacular. It is great to be here with so many big champions.”
Peter Sagan added a stage 10 sprint victory to his resume this past year, the second year in a row he has won a stage at the Italian Grand Tour.
“The Giro d’Italia is special. I lived in Italy for 5 years and, for me, Italy is my second home. Last year I finally took part in the Giro d’Italia for the first time and it was beautiful. I wanted to ride it again and came back this year and managed to win the Maglia Ciclamino. I am very happy to be back in Dubai after I rode the first ever Dubai Tour: tomorrow I will try my best, it will definitely be an interesting race!”
RCS Sport revealed the opening three days of competition for the 2022 edition of the Giro two days ago, with the Grande Partenza in Budapest, Hungary for the first time. Organisers plan plan to announce details about the full three weeks of racing with daily instalments during the next week.
“It is a real honour for me to be at the Italy Pavilion of Expo 2020 Dubai. I have fond memories of Dubai. I have been in Dubai a few times and it is incredible to see how cycling has grown as a sport and how many bike enthusiasts, of all ages, are active in Dubai and in the UAE,” stated Viviani, who won the points classification at the 2019 UAE Tour.
“We did a ride this morning with so many people, 30,000! It was a great experience and I was so happy to see so many people riding their bicycles. Tomorrow is going to be a fast race in a special place: I can’t wait to ride the Giro d’Italia Criterium.”
Additional riders on the start line Saturday include this year’s Giro d’Italia mountains classification winner Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën Team), winner of the Monte Zoncolan stage of 2021 Giro d’Italia Lorenzo Fortunato (EOLO-Kometa), winner of Stage 2 of 2021 Tour de Luxembourg Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates), Olympic gold medalist in the Team Pursuit Simone Consonni (Cofidis), and Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), who became the first Hungarian to wear the maglia rosa with his climbing prowess on stage 6 this year to the summit of San Giacomo.
A total of 192 countries are taking part in the Expo 2020, and is the largest event ever held in the Arab world, according to organisers. The criterium is one of hundreds of live events held over a six months to celebrate innovation and world cultures, running from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.