Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Betting on the Giro d'Italia

The Giro d'Italia has begun and this is the first time in 14 years that I am not able to spend hours glued to my T.V. watching the race or planning a road trip to follow it live in Italy.  Boo-hoo!  Instead, I am working guiding bike tours for I Bike Italy while the Giro d'Italia is in progress.  Ironic that I am so close and yet so far from the all the action!

Andrea, Steven and Jacobo are Vespa tour guides who have taught me how to "bet Italian style".  They work for the same tour operator, so I see them every day at lunch, since their tours eat at the same winery.  At lunchtime, while our clients are taking a tour of the villa, the four of us jump in the van and drive to the betting agency in San Casciano, where they bet on soccer and I bet on the day's Giro stage! 

Sports betting is a big business in Italy, it's completely legal (of course the government takes most of the profits) and it's administered through a chain of agencies that are set up in local neighborhoods. People gather there to watch the games, read and talk about the odds, and place their bets.  They are similar to the Off Track Betting agencies that operate in a few of the United States.  While most people go to bet on soccer, you can bet on any sport that is current, such as horse racing, car racing and the Giro d'Italia!

Although I have been missing it on T.V., I've been keeping up with it on-line and today I downloaded the IPhone Giro application which I can follow while on the road. Yesterday I bet on Nibali winning the Mt. Etna stage, and so far, I haven't won a Euro yet! 

The Giro has really changed in the last couple of years.  It has become more commercial in it's televised presentation.  I enjoyed it better in the old days and I miss the old champions who made it so exciting.  Well, betting on the Giro is one way to get myself involved and to learn more about the new rising stars who will be tomorrow's great legends.