The Confounding Charm of the Tour of Italy

A storied race at a crossroads

Since 1909, cyclists in the Tour of Italy (Giro d’Italia) have been winding their way through medieval villages, lush citrus orchards, glacial river valleys, Roman castle fortresses, and impossibly pristine farmland with sweeping panoramic views. The Tour of Italy is perhaps the most beautiful bike race in the world, but, increasingly, one of the sport’s most fraught. Last year, after being banned from the sport, cyclist Danilo Di Luca made the audacious claim that one could not finish among the top 10 competitors of the race without using performance enhancers, and this year, coverage of the event was plagued by rumors of battery-operated motors concealed within bicycle frames. The images that follow of the storied Giro raise important questions about our relationship with competitive sports today: To what extent can we separate the pleasure of watching with the success-at-any-price actions of its competitors? Can we just sit back and enjoy the ride?

The Marche stage, Castelfidardo

Abruzzo and Molise stage, Campitello Matese

Lombardia stage, Edolo, Val Camonica