Next year’s Giro d’Italia, the world-famous cycling race, will start from Budapest.

“Based on our results, our fans and our hosting of sports events, we are a sports nation”, State Secretary for Information and the International Representation of Hungary Tamás Menczer declared, adding that the race will also be promoted at Hungary’s foreign representations. “The Giro is an institution of which the Italians can rightly be proud, and from now on we will be able to feel that it also belongs to us a little. We will be doing everything possible to be able to state: Hungary has organised the best start of the Giro to date”.

At Monday’s press conference at the Italian Cultural Institute in Budapest, Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni announced: the first three stages of next May’s race will be held in Hungary, before the field of the 103rd Giro continue the tour in Italy following a rest day.

He highlighted that he is proud that the starting stage of next year’s Giro, the Grande Partenza, will be held in a wonderful European city, adding that Hungary has enjoyed huge popularity in recent years and hosting the first stages of the Giro affords it the opportunity to showcase the beautiful scenery and landscapes that exist outside the capital. “The first three stages are a fantastic opportunity for Hungary”, he said, adding that the details will be made public at a later date, probably in June. In reply to a question from Hungarian news agency MTI, the race director said that following last year’s start in Jerusalem, the organisation would have liked to choose a popular capital, and since, similarly to Italy, Hungary also has rich traditions, and a rich history and culture, the choice fell on Budapest over Marseille, which was also vying to host the start of the race.

Deputy Mayor of Budapest Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovinczky underlined: It is a great honour for Budapest that the Giro d’Italia will start from the city. “In recent years Budapest has proven that it is a good host for high quality and high-level sports competitions”, she pointed out, adding: “Budapest is a sport-loving, and increasingly sporty city”. She said she believes that an event of this kind can have a major effect on lovers of recreational sports and on the capital in view of the fact that hundreds of millions of people will be watching the start of one of the sport’s three Grand Tours on television, and tens of thousands are expected to attend the start. “The Municipality of Budapest is supporting the organisation of the race through providing the location, promoting the event, and providing the required permits”, she said.

“What nobody was counting on has happened, what we didn’t really dare to imagine has been realised: we are the first in the region to have succeeded in assuring that the Grande Partenza will happen here”, Government Commissioner for the Active Hungary programme Máriusz Révész said. “The Giro d’Italia is not just important from the perspective of the country’s image, but is also an economically profitable investment”, the Government Commissioner stated. He recalled that when the organisers of the Giro first had the idea that the race could possibly start from Hungary, the related ministries, the Hungarian Cycling Association and the Municipality of Budapest all rallied behind the idea.

As he explained, no other sport can present a country in this way: organising the event requires a major investment, but has huge advertising value. Based on the experiences of the Dutch Grande Partenza in 2010, every invested euro directly generated two euros. Mr. Révész told the press that the start of the Giro will be realised with 7.8 billion forints (EUR 24.3 million) in government funding, explaining that hundreds of preliminary events will be organised and Hungary will already begin being promoted on the promotional spaces of the Italian tour in the near future and this year’s race will be broadcast live on M4 Sport television. He pointed out that László Bodrogi is the only Hungarian to have taken part in the race to date, but work is underway so that there an be another Hungarian competitor.

State Secretary for Sport Tünde Szabó highlighted: Together with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia is one of cycling’s three most important competitions. “We expect a huge level of interest, and the streets will be filled with fans in view of the fact that the sport’s top competitors will be coming to Hungary. They are examples from whom we can learn perseverance, humility and extreme endurance”, she said. Ms. Szabó said the Italian Giro fits into the series of world competitions that Hungary has hosted or will be hosting in the near future, explaining that the Hungarian Government would like to promote everyday exercise, and the event represents an excellent opportunity for Hungarian tourism in view of the fact that “the three stage will provide the opportunity for us to show as much as possible of our exceptional treasures”.

Managing Director of Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport, Paolo Bellino said: “One of the most difficult cycling tours could not pass up the opportunity to come to Hungary”. “Similarly to Italy, Hungary has a host of traditions and history, and even the colours of our flags are the same. The Giro is an investment in the country’s image that provides an immediate return, and I am sure that Hungary will organise a successful Grande Partenza”, he said.

At the end of the press conference, at which the trophies of this year’s race were also presented, Tünde Szabó and Paolo Bellino signed the contract. None of the three major cycling tours have passed through Hungary before. In the 110-year history of the Giro, the race has started from outside Italy on 13 occasions, most recently last year from Israel.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)