2012 Giro d’Italia Prologue to Take Place in Washington, DC

In an effort to promote cycling internationally, organizers of one of the sport’s most prestigious races, the Giro d’Italia, have announced that the prologue to the race will be held in Washington, DC in 2012, according to The Washington Post. The Giro d’Italia, which takes place mostly in Italy, will bring thousands of acclaimed cyclists and enthusiastic spectators from around the globe to the U.S. capital, generating revenue and hype for Washington, DC.

The opening stage of the road bicycle race, called the prologue, is the only race day currently scheduled to be held in the U.S. – after the prologue, the race would continue in Italy after a day of rest. The proposed course begins at Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the National Archives, continues past the FBI building and Freedom Plaza, then goes behind the White House to Virginia Avenue and the Watergate. Once cyclists reach Rock Creek Park they will head back along the same course to the starting point. Along the race course is the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which features two bronze sculptures made in Italy in 1950 by artist Leo Friedlander, and presented to the United States in 1951.

The Giro d’Italia began in 1909 and is one of three cycling Grand Tours, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España in Spain. The annual three-week-long race takes place in May. The DC race will mark the first time any portion of the Grand Tours has been conducted outside of Europe. — Elaine Murphy