Born of tumult in 1909, the Giro d'Italia helped unite a nation. Since then it has reflected it too; the race's capricious and unpredictable nature matching the passions and extremes of Italy itself. A desperately hard race through a beautiful country, the Giro has bred characters and stories that dramatise the shifting culture and society of its home: Alfonsina Strada, who cropped her hair and raced against the men in 1924. Ottavio Bottecchia, expected to challenge for the winner's Maglia Rosa in 1928, until killed on a training ride, probably by Mussolini's Black Shirts. Fausto Coppi, the metropolitan playboy with amphetamines in his veins, guided by a mystic blind masseur; and his arch rival Gino Bartali; humble, pious and countrified (and brave: recently it emerged he smuggled papers for persecuted Jewish Italians). The Giro's most tragic hero - Marco Pantani, born to climb but fated to lose. Halted only by World Wars, the Giro has been contested since 1909. The 2017 edition will be its one hundredth. This book celebrates it in all its kaleidoscopic glory.