There’s never been as much anticipation for the Giro d'Italia as the edition that's about to start on the streets of Naples.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

For decades Italy's Grand Tour has been describes as the "poor cousin" of Le Tour de France or worse still "the world's second best three-week bike race."

A touch unfair I feel but there's no doubt the Giro has certainly been challenged for media coverage outside of Italy compared to its more prestigious French equivalent which hogs the headlines of every major news organisation year in, year out.

The media landscape is shifting however, and that was evident last year with the arrival of Michele Acquarone who took over the reigns as the Giro's new race director.

What a breath of fresh air this modern visionary has turned out to be.

In a race that dates back to 1908, can you believe Signor Acquarone is the first of a long line of Giro race directors who actually has a good command of the English language?

That's certainly a great start!

He doesn't appear to be your typical trademark Italian businessman we've come to know from watching the politically incorrect antics of Italy's infamous former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Acquarone is way above that.

He's not from the "old school" and fully understands the requirements needed to ensure the Giro continues to grow outside of home base.

From my observations, Acquarone's past suggests he's somewhat of an "international man of mystery", yet is not afraid to be active on social media and interacts accordingly.

He has a keen interest in traditional US sports such as baseball, basketball and American Football, but most importantly knows the value of the bike race of which he has total control.

And in a world of live television when the eyes of a vast majority of the globe's population will be glued to the season's first Grand Tour, Acquarone appears to be steering the Giro in the right direction.

But it wasn't always that way - in fact it was never that way at all.

Who can remember the days when you had to look high and low for any form of TV coverage of the Giro?

Remember the mediocre production of the 15 minute daily highlights packages SBS introduced no more than six years ago?

And what about the commentary from Paddy Agnew in 2009?

Here was a football journalist (of all things) from Ireland living in Italy who had never been to a bike race in his life.

His only qualification is that he spoke English - it was enough to satisfy ignorant Giro producers at the time - only problem was his lack of expertise generated a bag of hate mail, enough to even make Santa Claus turn pink with embarrassment.

It's taken a while but it seems Italian TV producers are finally getting it right.

But why has it taken so long to realise the marketing, promotional and tourism opportunities has to offer?

Statistics prove France is the world's most visited nation for tourists and I suggest part of the reason is based the fact that viewers plan future holidays to that part of the world from watching Le Tour.

The 2013 Giro has the makings of being a classic - the calibre of talent suggests this, as does the imaginative course that's been laid out by Acquarone.

Wiggins, Evans, Nibali, Hesjedal, Garzelli, Basso, Scarponi are the big hitters expected to challenge for the maglia rosa.

Aussie interest will again revolve around the fortunes of Matt Goss and Orica-GreenEDGE.

Talk to most of the riders in the pro-peloton with past Giro experience and they will categorically tell you the Giro is the hardest of all Grand Tours.

It may also be the most beautiful and the best, but you'd never would have known.

Until Italian TV is able and willing to market its race with the same finesse, technique and TLC as the Tour de France it will struggle to be in the same league.

Come on Signor Acquarone make it happen, if anyone can do it's you!

The day is coming (sooner rather than later) when viewer numbers for Italy's premier cycle tour will rival that of the one across border in France.

The anticipation is fever pitch - let the Giro begin.

SBS will broadcast daily Giro d'Italia highlights at 6:00pm on SBS TWO, and will show eight key stages live on SBS TWO and online right here at Cycling Central.