Mike Tomalaris wonders why a second-tier Italian rider like Matteo Priamo can blitz an internationally lauded cycling field on his home turf, but lauds the improvement of race leader Giovanni Visconti.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

I never cease to be amazed to the way Italian riders excel when performing in their national race - the Giro d'Italia.

It was a double celebration overnight as Matteo Priamo took stage honours with Giovanni Visconti moving into the outright lead.

With all due respect to Priamo and his fine effort in winning stage 6, Priamo is a second-tier racer who has never previously reached any lofty heights in the world of professional cycling.

Yet he surprisingly delivered today when very few expect him to do so.

As for Visconti, well it's a different story.

As Italy's reigning national champion, the 25 year old a reputation which is growing with every race in which he competes.

Expectations are much higher.

It goes without saying that Italy has long produced cyclists of the highest quality stretching back to the turn of last century - Coppi, Pantani, Cipollini and Bettini are names I can rattle off in quick succession without notice, but the list is endless.

Take a look at some the Giro winners of the past 10 years - Savoldelli, Cunego and Simoni.
It's more proof of their hunger to win on home soil.

There's no doubt, the Giro is firmly etched into the make-up of Italian riders as is the Tour Down Under when Australians line-up for their unofficial national tour in South Australia each January.

Stuart O'Grady, Michael Rogers and Patrick Jonker are part of TDU folklore as is Robbie McEwen who has won more stages than any other rider in the race's 10 year history.

But what do you make of the French who haven't succeeded in the Tour de France since the Badger - Bernard Hinault - swept all before him in the mid 1980s?

A Frenchman winning a stage in his own national race is rare these days let alone expecting he will take overall victory.

Who could forget Thomas Voeckler wen he generated hysteria by keeping the yellow jersey from Lance Armstrong for more than a week in 2004?

And there was Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque who always excited the desperate French crowds in need of a national hero, despite the pair never winning a Grand Tour

Apart from lacking depth among its current ranks, not to mention the Tour's status as an international event, it may be many years yet before another Frenchman stands tall on the Champs Elysees in July.

But that's not the case with the Giro.

Chances are an Italian will more than likely win the first Grand Tour of the year - as to who it may be is anyone's guess.

Not that it matters as he will be feted for the rest of his days in the same way Italy's football stars are whenever they bring home the World Cup.

So what is it about Italian cyclists and their outstanding performances at the Giro - do you have a theory?

if so, please tell.