Motorcycles of the Giro d’Italia

100 years of leading the peloton around Italy for three weeks

riding a bicycle up a snow covered mountain road
Luxembourger Charly Gaul (“The Angel of the Mountains”) climbs a snowbank-lined and muddy road at the 1957 Giro d’Italia. Gaul won the Giro in '56 and '59.Giro d’Italia archives

The 100th Giro d'Italia is happening now, and the three-week Tour of Italy bicycle race sends the racing faithful (called tifosi) into an emotional fervor. Winning a stage catapults a rider into near-sainthood among the tifosi, and winning the race overall vaults him into god-like status. Wearing the race leader's pink jersey (maglia rosa) is the dream of every Italian boy racer (corridore di ragazzo).

With 21 stages covering 3,609.1 km (2,243 miles), including two individual time trials, the hardworking cameramen and photographers have their work cut out for them in 2017. But it’s the photographers on motorcycles who have a Herculean responsibility to be in the right places along each route to capture the images for the world to see. Here are several decade’s worth of historic racing imagery. Forza!

motorcycle in the 1962 giro d'italia
A front row seat to the racing action of the 1962 Giro d’Italia.Giro d’Italia archives
jacques anquetil race action
Frenchman Jacques Anquetil always managed to keep his hair neatly combed, even when racing past the tifosi in the 1964 Giro d’Italia. Anquetil won the Giro in '60 and '64.Giro d’Italia archives
eddy merckx with arms raised at finish line
Belgian Eddy Merckx claims victory in the 1968 Giro d'Italia, wearing the rainbow jersey of a reigning world road champion. Merckx is considered the greatest cyclist of all time, with 525 victories. He won the Giro five times.Giro d'Italia archives
merckx riding at full speed
Merckx on this way to victory in the Stage 15 time trial during the 1969 Giro d’Italia, a race he was controversially thrown out of after a doping test gone wrong, despite winning four stages.Giro d’Italia archives
merckx riding up a mountain road
Merckx, doing what he did best: crushing the mountains as he crushed his competitors.Giro d’Italia archives
francesco moser race action
Italian Francesco Moser powered his muscular body to overall victory in the 1984 Giro d’Italia, narrowly snatching victory from Frenchman Laurent Fignon.Giro d’Italia archives
gianni bugno race action
Italian Gianni Bugno led the 1990 Giro d’Italia from start to finish, the last rider to do so and only one of four in the history of the race.Giro d’Italia archives
marco pantani race action
Italian Marco Pantani time trialing during the 1998 Giro d’Italia. “Il Pirata” won the Giro in 1998, but was thrown out after a bad dope test in 1999. He died of a cocaine overdose on Valentine’s Day 2004.RCS Sport
danilo diluca race action
Italian Danilo DiLuca charges to the finish line during a stage of the 2007 Giro d’Italia, followed by the world’s media. He won that year’s Giro.RCS Sport
2010 giro d'italia race action
‘Deep waters ahead, boys!’ Safety precautions during the 2010 Giro d’Italia.RCS Sport
motorcycle with water bottles in back
Hydration is the key to slogging through 200 kilometer stages day in and day out. Here an Astana team rider happily partakes of a free CamelBak bottle from a passing motorcycle.RCS Sport
pavel kochetkov race action
Russian Pavel Kochetkov tries to take a solo victory in the 2015 Giro d’Italia, but his effort didn’t stick.RCS Sport
vincenzo nibali race action
Italian Vincenzo Nibali stays calm during a mountain stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia, which he won overall.RCS Sport

VIDEO: 2017 Giro d'Italia