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Italian Tour goes to Washington?

It really sound kind of, well, nonsensical.

Let's take the Giro D'Italia, one of professional cycling's three grand tours, and start it in Washington, D.C.

It's kind of like telling the World Series teams to play the first two games in Rome, then come back to the United States to finish the championship.

But Angelo Zomegnan, the Giro's race director, wants to market his event, and the sport, beyond the European boarders. He has been in talks with officials in Washington, D.C. about holding the first two stages of the 21-day cycling race in America's nation's capital in 2012. Riders and their support personnel would then fly back to Italy to resume the race one to two days later.

"Is it crazy? Oh sure yes, I've heard that," Zomegnan said in an article in the New York Times. "But I think it is good to take chances. I don't say why. I say, why not?"

The why not centers first on safety for the riders. The day-by-day grueling physical challenge would not include getting over jet lag.

Then come the logistical issues. The 198 riders along with staff for the tour and the teams would need to fly eight hours across five time zones -- along with their bikes.

Granted American leagues -- including MLB, the NHL and the NFL -- have played games internationally. But as Times reporter Juliet Macur pointed out, cycling is different:

"But none of those sports are quite like the Giro, one of cycling's three Grand Tours -- races that require riders to have nearly superhuman resilience as they endure physical pain day after day for three weeks," Macur writes. "It is a triumph just to make it to the finish. None of the Grand Tours, which include the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana, have ever started outside Europe."

Why try to start outside Europe?

Marketing of course. To help grow the sport in North America and gain the attention of the sporting consciousness of American fans and sponsors.

U.S. rider Christian Vande Velde said, "there's a fine line between crazy stupid and crazy spectacular."

Where this idea falls is still to be seen.

--- Amy Moritz
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