Mike Tomalaris speculates on the future of the Giro d'Italia in Australian hearts as highlights screen on SBS for the first time this year.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

For cycling purists, the Giro d'Italia has long been considered the best of Europe's Grand Tours yet it hasn't received the global exposure of its big brother - the Tour de France.

The reasons are many, but from a television perspective, it all comes down to marketing techniques from the respective host broadcasters.

When the Tour de France was first broadcast on SBS in 1991, it was virtually handed on a platter by race organisor ASO, at a cost of next-to-nothing.

But with the growth of the race in the last 15 years, the increase in audience in that time and the success of the many Australians, it goes without saying costs have increased for a worthwhile investment.

The Tour de France is very much instilled in the sporting pscyhe of Australian viewers and indeed the entire world.

Not so the Giro.

SBS has been chasing the Giro broadcast rights for several years, but for the Italian TV executives who have always charged "like wounded bulls".

And it's not only Australia which has been priced out of the market.

In 2002 to celebrate the introduction of the Euro, the Giro started in The Netherlands and wound its way through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and France before entering home soil and working its way to the traditional finish in Milan.

Despite the pre-race hype and the array of stars such as Mario Cipollini , Gilberto Simoni, Tyler Hamilton and Paolo Savoldelli - just to name a few - only a handful of countries were prepared to take the live coverage because of the huge expense.

Even Dutch TV was haggling over the fee and it was until a day before the race start in Groningen, did parties from both sides come to an agreement.

But times are slowly changing and it seems the global success of the Tour has prompted a change of heart by the Italian executives.

For the first time SBS viewers will screen daily highlights of the Giro in what is being considered a start of a new era.

Believe me, the sprints are just as fast, the mountains just as high and the drama and emotion just as captivating - if not better.

As always, you must crawl before you can walk and here's hoping the Giro's inaugural broadcast on Australia will spark an increase in TV time in the coming years.

And of course, as well as this year's Giro, there's plenty mroe cycling to come on SBS

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