Italy hosts the first stages of the Tour de France: “big event among big events”

“The roads and towns, villages and hills (…) have started to turn yellow in recent days. A yellow that will be even brighter and more intense from this (Saturday), and in the coming days, in the places crossed by the peloton.” The journalist ofIl Foglio do not mask his enthusiasm, as the 2024 edition of the Tour de France began in Italy on Saturday, June 29.

The first three stages of the Tour de France take place in the north of La Botte. The peloton set off on Saturday from Florence to reach Rimini. It will continue its route between Cesenatico and Bologna the next day, then between Piacenza and Turin. The fourth stage will mark the crossing of the Alps border, and the continuation of the race in France.

“The Tour de France never started in Italy”, recalls the Milanese daily. Only a few stages took place there, in the Alps, Piedmont and the Aosta Valley. The author suggests that this was only a preview of the event for the Italian public. “The Tour de France is the biggest event of all.”

While the Giro d’Italia is undoubtedly a prestigious race, the Tour de France occupies a special place in the world of cycling, he continues: it is the first major race in the history of the discipline, which dates back 121 years. “That’s perhaps (why) it fascinates us: it’s the origin of all these stories about men on bicycles.”

Children of the country

For the British daily The Guardian, this start in Italy is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the great Italian riders who have marked the history of the Tour. “For local authorities in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, it is a great way to highlight a region of Italy that has seen the birth of legendary cyclists.” The big departure from Florence thus allows us to remember the story of a child of the city: Gino Bartali, double winner of the Great Loop in 1938 and 1948. After his death, the champion was recognized among the Righteous. They had saved the lives of hundreds of Jews by transporting false identity documents, by bicycle, to the villages of the region.

In another articlethe London newspaper also mentions “the grandeur and the decadence” by Marco Pantani, originally from Cesenatico where the second stage starts on Sunday. Winner of the Tour in 1998, “the pirate” is a more controversial character, excluded following a failed doping test and found dead in 2004 in a hotel room. “All the contradictions and disorder inherent in the way the Tour confronts its past will be raised, for the umpteenth time, when the peloton starts the second stage.”

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