That of 1988 was a very unlucky Giro with falls, protests and bad weather. All this relegated the sport dimension in the background but justly awarded an American rider for the first time, Hampsten, followed by Breukink and Zimmerman.
In Borgo Valsugana the Giro risked a dramatic turn: with approximately one kilometre remaining, some riders went out of the route and rode over a pregnant woman who, luckily, was injured lightly without any consequence for her pregnancy.
Laurent Fignon, who in March had won the Milano-Sanremo, came back to the Giro with the intention to win. The athletes rode from Sicily up to the north, living many interesting episodes and showing the climber skills of Luis Herrera as the ambitions of the young Cipollini and Bugno who succeded in achieving their first goals in the Giro. The race ended in Florence with Fignon first, followed by Giupponi and Hampsten.
Among the novelties stood out the replacement of Termozeta with Malerba as far as the sponsoring of the point classification was concerned, the introduction of the “maglia azzurra” and the presence of Soviet Union riders, belonging to a professional team from San Marino, although in fact they were still considered amateurs by their local cycling institutions.
In the Grand Start from Bari, with a time trial on the promenade, Gianni Bugno, who had already started the season successfully by winning Milano-Sanremo, proved to be the undisputed leader. He wore the Maglia Rosa from Bari to Milan, matching the past feats of Girardengo (1919), Binda (1927) and Merckx (1973). He won the race, followed by Mottet and Giovannetti.
To prevent overlapping with the World Cup that was going to be disputed in Italy, the Giro was anticipated of a few days and two stages were canceled. In the Aprica stage, the Mortirolo was to be climbed for the first time: soon it was considered very hard, even on the side of Monno. The Giro came back to Milan for the epilogue with a circuit around Parco Sempione with the finish line in front of the Castello Sforzesco.
The Giro, after having been in Sardinia in 1961, came back to that island with the Grand Start in Olbia. In the 6th stage Sorrento-Scanno, Chioccioli finally pulled on the Maglia Rosa and kept it till the end of the race. In the following stages, after defending himself brilliantly both on the Monviso and in Sestriere, on the Mortirolo ramps he created quite a gap, then he rode alone on the Aprica and the Santa Cristina passes, winning one of the most exciting stages. He won the Giro and was followed by Chiappucci and Lelli.
The Stelvio Pass, scheduled in the Tirano-Selva Valgardena stage, was closed because of avalanche risk and this forced the organisers to change the route by introducing the Tonale and the Palade Passes. The following day, in the stage heading to the Pordoi Pass, the organization was told that the San Pellegrino Pass was closed because of a landslide. The stage route was deviated to the Fedaia Pass, going through the Pordoi Pass twice.
The representatives of twenty-three nations fought with great passion, although from stage three the Spanish Indurain began to control the race easily. In the flat stages sprinters challenged each other to thrilling duels, including the outstanding Bontempi and Mario Cipollini who also succeeded in gaining the Maglia Ciclamino. The epilogue in Milan highlighted the exceptional chronoman skills of Miguel Indurain who won the Giro followed by Chiappucci and then by Chioccioli.
In the final time trial from Vigevano to Milan Indurain imposed strong advantages over his opponents. In the very final stretch he even caught Chiappucci who had started off three minutes earlier. The only important absent, and he was criticized by the national and international press, was the World Champion Gianni Bugno who preferred to focus on the Tour de France.
The start was given from Elba for the first time after the Giro had shortly been there in 1980. At first the race was dominated by the Mecair riders, with Argentin in the forefront. Then after the Senigallia time trial, the racing was carefully controlled by Indurain, who performed a spectacular feat in the Pinerolo-Sestriere time trial and won the Giro for the second time in a row. He was followed by Ugrumov and Chiappucci.
For the first time after 1954, RAI did not broadcast the Giro. It was RTI of Silvio Berlusconi that broadcasted it on Italia1. RTI gave a noticeable impulse and marked a turning point in interpreting the cycling race from a broadcasting point of view.
To meet the pressing requests from different foreign countries, the Giro crossed the borders of Slovenia, Austria and France. Athletically, two young riders were strongly in the limelight: Eugenj Berzin, quite outstanding in the Follonica time trial, who won the Giro in the end, and Marco Pantani, who showed his excellent skills as a climber, especially in the Mortirolo stage and arrived second in Milan, followed by Indurain.
Tuttosport, a sport newspaper in Turin, got a scoop by revealing the route three days before the official presentation of the Giro. But the Race Management, in less than 24 hours modified the route by changing only one stage town and including the Bocco mountain time trial, that turned out to be a great success.
The Giro was disputed in cold weather, rain and snow. Toni Rominger proved his undisputed superiority: he controlled the whole stage race at will, quenching all his opponents’ attempts in the Selvino time trial. In the last stage (Milan), because of the rain and the slippery roads, the last five laps of the circuit in Corso Sempione were neutralized for the GC and were considered only for the stage standings. The Giro winner was Rominger, followed by Berzin and Ugrumov.
In the stage Mondovì-Briançon there was an avalanche on the Agnello Pass that struck several following cars and obstructed the road. The riders had to stop in Chianale di Pontechianale where the Intergiro sprint was already scheduled with an emergency finish. The 21st stage with the finish line in Luino, had to be changed as the mayor of Brissago Valtravaglia did not authorize the race to go through the town.
1996 was the year of La Gazzetta dello Sport centenary , concomitant with that of the Olympic Games. Athen, where the first Olympics had taken place, was chosen to celebrate both events. The Giro went through its Olympic route to arrive in Brindisi and then got through Magna Grecia town till Lausanne. Agonistically, the Giro had a beginning dominated by sprinters and then Tonkov and Olano took the lead. Only in the second last stage, with the Gavia and the Mortirolo climbs, Tonkov managed to take the final victory and he arrived in Milan as the winner, followed by Zaina and Olano.
Every stage was dedicated to a great sport champion, so as to celebrate the great Olympic feats. The five-year contract with Berlusconi’s television channels expired and negotiations with the RAI were resumed, but once again the agreement broke up and RTI continued the cooperation with the Giro.
At the beginning Tonkov led the Giro. He wore the Maglia Rosa in the San Marino time trial on day three. But then Ivan Gotti performed a strong and efficient action in Breuil Cervinia that moved him to the top of the GC. His strenuous defense on the tough Mortirolo climb frustrated his opponents’ attacks. In Milan, where his team mate Cipollini took his fifth stage victory and the Maglia Ciclamino, he won the Giro, followed by Tonkov and Guerini.
In the 8th stage, at the beginning of the descent to Maiori, a cat crossed the road and a few riders were involved in a crash, including Pantani who crossed the finish line with a substantial delay and was then forced to pull out of the race. The Giro started from Venice where a few days before some Lega del Nord supporters had strongly protested by occupying the Bell Tower in Piazza San Marco. As a consequence the presentation ceremony was cancelled and there was less public at the beginning of the race.