SBS’s loss is not a complete disaster, as many Australian cycling fans will have pay-TV subscriptions or the technical nous to get around geo-restrictions on live online streams. But it is a big shame for the domestic profile of Australian cycling generally.
Our connection to the famous Giro d’Italia runs deep. Known for its hard racing and unpredictable conditions which can suit attacking riders, the Giro has long been a proving ground for many a young Aussie rider getting an opportunity to test themselves on the international cycling stage.
Those stories need to be told.
The first Australian to ride the Giro was Brisbane born Garry Clively. The 18 year-old Coburg Cycling club amateur headed to Italy to escape the disappointment of missing Australian team selection for the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games.
Clively quickly made his mark in Italy with the amateur team Siapa by winning 11 races, earning the rank of Italy’s No. 1 amateur, and riding to fourth in the 1975 world amateur road race championship in Belgium – all by the age of 20.
The contract offers came, and Clively turned professional with the Italian Magniflex-Torpado team. He finished a very creditable 44th on GC in the 1976 Giro d’Italia race after being 12th at the half-way mark. It was a successful first Grand Tour for Clively by anyone’s measure. His best results in that Giro were a 10th in Stage 8 (256km Selva di Fasano to Lago di Laceno) and 4th in Stage 16 (258km Castellamonte to Arosio).
The young Australian did well in other races too, including 7th at Trofeo Laigueglia, 2nd in GP Camaiore, 3rd in Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria, 3rd in Sassari-Cagliari, and an amazing 7th overall in the 1977 Vuelta a España. Shortly after he sold everything (including his bike), bought a ticket back to Melbourne, and basically disappeared from cycling for the next decade.
The details are sketchy. But the story goes that Clively’s sudden exit at a time when he looked poised for greatness was due to a combination of disillusionment with the drugs and corruption he had witnessed in European cycling, and a personal quest to work out his life’s true purpose.
Either way, Clively decided to leave pro cycling on his own terms and never raced on the international stage again. To add a further twist to the story, he did return only briefly 11 years later in Australia to win the 1989 Australian national road championship for good measure.
We have certainly seen a number of Aussie riders do better than Clively in the Giro, but his experiences as a young pro in Italy and the first Australian Giro rider are an important part of the Australian Giro story. Indeed, he had made such an impact in Italy that the Belgian superstar cyclist Eddy Merckx had apparently said to John Trevorrow once, “Whatever happened to Garry Clively? He could have been anything.”
Since Garry Clively’s pioneering Giro ride in 1976, a further 60 Australians have lined up at the race start line 174 times over the years (if you count this year), with 105 race completions to 2016.
For the serious cycling geeks, and armchair stats watchers, a full list of Australian Giro riders and GC results can be seen at the end of this article. What follows below is some interesting facts and figures from digging into the numbers on Australia’s efforts in our 40-year relationship with this great race.
BY THE NUMBERS
Australian riders have had a big impact on the Giro d’Italia since 1976, with multiple stage wins, classification wins, and time in all of the Giro leader jerseys. While our list of achievements at the Giro is long, Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, and Michael Matthews have arguably been our ‘best’ Giro riders to date.
Evans was the first Australian to wear the Giro d’Italia leader jersey (after Stage 16 in 2002, and again after Stage 2 in 2010). He also won the Giro points classification in 2010, was third in the GC in 2013 (holding the pink jersey after stages 9-11), and eighth on GC in 2014 (held pink jersey after stages 8-11).
McEwen’s 10 Giro starts yielded an amazing 25 podiums (12 wins, 9 seconds, 4 thirds), including three stage wins at the 2005 and 2006 Giro. And Matthews’ multiple days in the pink leader's jersey (and other classification jerseys) in just two Giro campaigns so far have been significant too.
Other notable results have included:
- Michael Wilson was the first Australian to win a Giro stage (Stage 2 1982), and he was also one of our most consistent (3rd Stage 4 1983, 2nd Stage 14 1985, 3rd Stage 6 1986.
- Matt Lloyd was our first Grand Tour mountain classification winner (Giro d’Italia 2010).
- In 2010 Australians won all the secondary Giro jerseys: Matt Lloyd (mountains), Cadel Evans (points), Richie Porte (best young rider).
- Giro top-10s (Wilson 8th 1985; Anderson 7th 1987; McGee 8th 2004; Rogers 6th 2009; Porte 7th 2010; Evans 5th 2010, 3rd 2013, 8th 2014).
- Michael Wilson (Stage 2 1982)
- Allan Peiper (Stage 14 1990)
- Phil Anderson (Stage 17 1989, Stage 4b 1990)
- David McKenzie (Stage 7 2000)
- Robbie McEwen (Stage 4 / 10 2002, Stage 4 / 11 2003, Stage 5 2004, Stage 2 / 6 / 10 2005, Stage 2 / 4 / 6 2006, Stage 2 2007)
- Brad McGee (Prologue 2004)
- Brett Lancaster (Prologue 2005)
- Michael Rogers (Stage 1 TTT 2009, Stages 11 and 20 2014)
- Simon Gerrans (Stage 14 2009, Stage 1 TTT 2015)
- Cadel Evans (Stage 7 2010)
- Matt Goss (Stage 9 2010, Stage 3 2012)
- Matt Lloyd (Stage 6 2010)
- Adam Hansen (Stage 7 2013)
- Michael Matthews (Stage 1 TTT, Stage 6 2014) (Stage 1 TTT 2015)
Giro jersey holders
- Phil Anderson (1990 Intergiro ‘Maglia Azzura’ jersey)
- Cadel Evans (2002 pink leader jersey / general classification after Stage 16, and after Stage 2 in 2010)
- Brad McGee (2004 held pink leader jersey / general classification after Prologue and Stage 2)
- Robbie McEwen (2005 pink jersey after Stage 2)
- Brett Lancaster (2005 held pink jersey after Prologue)
- Cadel Evans (2010 red jersey / points classification)
- Matt Lloyd (2010 green jersey / mountains classification)
- Richie Porte (2010 white jersey / best young rider, pink GC jersey after Stage 11-13)
- Simon Gerrans (2015 held pink leader jersey after Stage 1)
- Michael Matthews (2014 pink jersey after Stages 2-7, white jersey after stages 2-7, blue jersey after stages 6-7; 2015 pink jersey after Stages 2-3, white jersey after Stages 1-3)
Most starts (including 2017)
10 = Robbie McEwen
9 = Brett Lancaster
8 = Adam Hansen, Graeme Brown
6 = Nick Gates
5 = Michael Wilson, Matt White
4 = Stephen Hodge, Alan Peiper, Cadel Evans, Mat Hayman, Michael Rogers, Brad McGee, Cameron Meyer, Matt Goss, Mark Renshaw, Jack Bobridge, Rory Sutherland, Michael Hepburn
Most finishes (excluding 2017)
6 = Adam Hansen
5 = Michael Wilson, Brett Lancaster
4 = Nick Gates, Matt White, Stephen Hodge, Alan Peiper, Cadel Evans
3 = Mat Hayman, Michael Rogers, Matt Lloyd, Rory Sutherland, Phil Anderson, Michael Hepburn
2 = Brad McGee, Cameron Meyer, Matthew Wilson, Luke Durbridge, Richie Porte, Scott Davis, Chris Sutton, Cameron Wurf, Heinrich Haussler, Simon Clarke, Luke Roberts, Jay McCarthy, Russell Van Hout, Trent Wilson, Neil Stephens, Henk Vogels
Of the 59 Australians who have started at least once in the Giro to 2016, 13 individuals have failed to complete the race in any of their starts (Robbie McEwen, Tom Leaper, Stuart O’Grady, Leigh Howard, Baden Cooke, Michael Matthews, Nathan O’Neill, Benjamin Brooks, Caleb Ewen, Mitch Docker). The most Giro DNFs by an Australian rider to date is 10 by Robbie McEwen – he never completed a Giro, but as we have already seen he is one of our most successful riders in this race.
2017 GIRO D'ITALIA
Australian cycling fans will see seven of their countrymen starting in the 2017 Giro, including the experienced Grand Tour specialist Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) in his ninth, and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) in his first start.
The Orica-Scott team is looking to Caleb Ewan to do well in the sprint stages in only his second Giro start. Other Australians alongside him at Orica-Scott are the specialist Giro domestique Michael Hepburn, and Grand Tour newcomer Alex Edmondson.
The other Australians on the 2017 start line include the in-form Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) in his third Giro, and Rory Sutherland (Movistar) lining up for his fourth.
Out of the seven Australian riders in the 100th Giro d’Italia, Caleb Ewan could very well sneak a stage win with the Orica-Scott team targeting the six sprint stages. He’ll be looking to improve on his 2016 Giro, after narrowly missing out on beating Greipel in Stage 12, and with top-10 finishes in the Stage 2, 5, and 7 finals.
Time trial specialist Rohan Dennis is also a good chance at one of the time trial stages (Stages 10 and 21) and perhaps even a top-10 GC result overall. And look out for either Nathan Haas or Adam Hansen in the non-sprint stages, as both have shown before they can get away in good breaks that stick.
1. Garry Clively (44th 1976)
2. Shane Bartley (77th 1979)
3. John Trevorrow (81st 1981)
4. Michael Wilson (43rd 1982, 61st 1983, 102nd 1984, 8th 1985, 17th 1986)
5. David McFarlane (134th 1984)
6. Neil Stephens (78th 1986, 57th 1992)
7. Alan Peiper (116th 1986, 103rd 1988, 144th 1990, 130th 1992)
8. Phil Anderson (7th 1987, 13th 1989, 33rd 1990)
9. Hodge Stephen (19th 1990, 26th 1991, 85th 1995, 76th 1996)
10. Eddie Salas (81st 1991)
11. Patrick Jonker (44th 1995)
12. Matthew White (DNF 1998, 101st 2000, 117th 2005, 102nd 2006, 104th 2007)
13. Robbie McEwen (DNF 2000, 2002-08, 2010-2011)
14. David McKenzie (113th 2000)
15. Bradley McGee (127th 2000, 8th 2004, DNF 2006, DNF 2008)
16. Ben Brooks (DNF 2000)
17. Tom Leaper (DNF 2000-01)
18. Nathan O Neill (DNF 2001)
19. Mathew Hayman ( 91st 2002, 136th 2006, DNF 2008, 105th 2010)
20. Graeme Brown (DNF 2002-03, 2006-08, 130th 2010, DNF 2012)
21. Cadel Evans (14th 2002, 5th 2010, 3rd 2013, 8th 2014)
22. Brett Lancaster (DNF 2003, 123rd 2004, 112th 2005, 114th 2007, DNF 2011-12, 120th 2013-14, 128th 2015)
23. Nick Gates (DNF 2003, 112th 2004, DNF 2005, 131st 2006, 126th 2007, 139th 2008)
24. Scott Sunderland (23rd 2003)
25. Scott Davis (DNF 2003, 89th 2004, 65th 2006)
26. Trent Wilson (125th 2004, 151st 2005)
27. Russell Van Hout (133rd 2004, 153rd 2005)
28. Matthew Wilson (131st 2004, 146th 2005, DNF 2011)
29. Baden Cooke (DNF 2005 & 2010)
30. Stuart O'Grady (DNF 2005 & 2008)
31. Henk Vogels (136th 2005, 145th 2006)
32. Michael Rogers (DNF 2006, 6th 2009, 18th 2014, 33rd 2015)
33. Mark Renshaw (144th 2005, DNF 2009, DNF 2011-12)
34. Rory Sutherland (108th 2005, 96th 2013, 80th 2016, *2017)
35. Adam Hansen (DNF 2007, 108th 2008, DNF 2010, 94th 2012, 71st 2013, 73rd 2014, 77th 2015, 68th 2016, *2017)
36. William Walker (57th 2007)
37. Matthew Lloyd (61st 2007, 30th 2008, 50th 2010)
38. Chris Sutton (DNF 2008, 133rd 2010, 153rd 2014)
39. Matthew Goss (126th 2009, DNF 2010, DNF 2012-13)
40. Allan Davis (114th 2009)
41. Cameron Meyer (DNF 2009, 137th 2010, 136th 2011, DNF 2014)
42. Simon Gerrans (39th 2009, DNF 2015)
43. Luke Roberts (124th 2010, 115th 2012)
44. Jack Bobridge (DNF 2010, 2012-13, 156th 2016)
45. Cameron Wurf (77th 2010, 127th 2013)
46. Richie Porte (7th 2010, 80th 2011, DNF 2015)
47. Luke Durbridge (141st 2013, DNF 2014, 109th 2015)
48. Leigh Howard (DNF 2013 & 2016)
49. Nathan Haas (DNF 2013, 104th 2014, *2017)
50. Michael Hepburn (154th 2014, 160th 2015, 150th 2016, *2017)
51. Jay McCarthy (91st 2014, 88th 2016)
52. David Tanner (130th 2014)
53. Mitchell Docker (DNF 2014)
54. Michael Matthews (DNF 2014-15)
55. Calvin Watson (151st 2015)
56. Simon Clarke (63rd 2015, 67th 2016)
57. Heinrich Haussler (107th 2015, 99th 2016)
58. Damien Howson (53rd 2016)
59. Caleb Ewan (DNF 2016, *2017)
60. Rohan Dennis (*2017)
61. Alex Edmondson (*2017)
*Results not finalised at time of writing.