, the winner of the inaugural Giro d'Italia.
The idea of the holding a bicycle race that navigated around Italy was first suggested when La Gazzetta dello Sport editor Tullo Morgagni sent a telegram to both the paper's owner, Emilio Costamagna, and cycling editor, Armando Cougnet, stating the need for an Italian tour. At the time La Gazzetta's rival, Corriere della Sera was planning on holding a bicycle race of its own, after the success they had gained from holding an automobile race. Morgagni then decided to try and hold their race before Corriere della Sera could hold theirs, but La Gazzetta lacked the money. However, after the success La Gazzetta had with creating the Giro di Lombardia and Milan–San Remo, the owner Costamagna decided to go through with the idea. Their bike race was announced on August 7, 1908 in the first page of that day's edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport. The race was to be held in May of 1909. The idea of the race was inspired by the Tour de France and the success that L'Auto had gained from it.
Since the organizers lacked the funds, 25,000 lire, needed to hold the race, they consulted Primo Bongrani, an accountant at the bank Cassa di Risparmio and friend of the three organizers. Bongrani proceeded to go around Italy asking for donations to help hold the race. Bongrani's efforts were largely successful, he had procured enough money to cover the operating costs. The money that was to be given out as prizes came from a casino in San Remo after Francesco Sghirla, a former Gazzetta employee, encouraged it to contribute to the race. Even Corriere, La Gazzetta's rival, gave 3,000 lire to the race's fund.
On 13 May 1909 at 02:53 am 127 riders started the first Giro d'Italia at Loreto Place in Milan. The race was split into eight stages covering 2,448 km (1,521 mi). A total of 49 riders finished, with Italian Luigi Ganna winning. Ganna won three individual stages and the General Classification. Ganna received 5325 lira as a winner’s prize, with the last rider in the general classification receiving 300 lira. The Giro's director received only 150 lira a month, 150 lira fewer than the last-placed rider.
The first Giro was won by Luigi Ganna, while Carlo Galetti won the two following Giros. In 1912, there was no individual classification, instead there was only a team classification, which was won by Team Atala. The 1912 Giro is the only time the competition has not had an individual classification. From 1914 onwards the scoring format was changed from a points-based system to a time-based system, in which the cyclist who had the lowest aggregate time at the end of the race would win. The Giro was suspended for four years from 1915 to 1918, due to the First World War. Costante Girardengo was the winner of the first Giro after the war in 1919.
The dominant figure in the 1920s was Alfredo Binda, who won his first Giro in 1925 and followed this up with another victory in 1927, in which he won 12 of the 15 stages. Victory in 1929 came courtesy of eight successive stage wins. At the height of his dominance Binda was called to the head office of La Gazzetta dello Sport in 1930; the newspaper accused him of ruining the race and offered him 22,000 lira to be less dominant, which he refused. Binda won five Giros before he was usurped as the dominant cyclist by Gino Bartali. Nicknamed the "Iron Man of Tuscany" for his endurance, Bartali won two Giros during the 1930s, in 1936 and 1937. Bartali's dominance was challenged in 1940, the last Giro before the Second World War, when he was defeated by his 20-year-old teammate Fausto Coppi.
The rivalry between Bartali and Coppi intensified after the war. Bartali won his last Giro in 1946, with Coppi winning his second the following year. Coppi won a further three Giros and in 1952 he became the first cyclist to win the Tour de France and Giro in the same year. Swiss Hugo Koblet became the first non-Italian to win the race in 1950. No one dominated the tour during the 1950s, Coppi, Charly Gaul and Fiorenzo Magni each won two Giros during the decade. The 1960s were similar, five-time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil won in 1960, and 1964, while Franco Balmamion won two successive Giros in 1962 and 1963.
Belgian Eddy Merckx was the dominant figure during the 1970s. His first victory came in 1968; another triumph in 1970 was followed by three successive victories from 1972 to 1974, which is the record for the most successive victories in the Giro. Felice Gimondi was victorious in 1976 winning his third Giro. Belgians Michel Pollentier and Johan De Muynck won the two subsequent Giros in 1977 and 1978. In 1980, Frenchman Bernard Hinault who up to this point had won two Tours de France, became France's first winner since Anquetil in 1964. He would win another two Giros in 1982 and 1985.
Stephen Roche was victorious in 1987, a year in which he also won the Tour and the UCI Road World Championship. American Andrew Hampsten became the first non-European winner the following year, and Laurent Fignon was victorious in 1989. Spaniard Miguel Indurain, winner of five Tours, won successive Giros in 1991 and 1992. Three time winner of the Vuelta a España, Tony Rominger was victorious in 1995, defeating the previous winner Evgeni Berzin. Marco Pantani was the winner in 1998, a year in which he completed the Tour and Giro double, Ivan Gotti won the previous Giro in 1997 and the subsequent one in 1999.
Stefano Garzelli won the Giro in 2000. Gilberto Simoni was the winner in 2001 and 2003, with Paolo Savoldelli victorious in 2002. Simoni was denied a third victory in 2004, when he was beaten by teammate Damiano Cunego. Savoldelli won his second Giro in 2005, beating Simoni by 28 seconds. Ivan Basso was the victor in 2006, Danilo di Luca won in 2007, though the tour was marred by doping allegations. Spaniard Alberto Contador of Astana was the winner in 2008; the following year he raced in the Tour de France instead, and Denis Menchov was the Giro victor. Basso returned after a doping suspension to regain his title in 2010. Contador was the victor at the podium ceremony in Milan, but he was later stripped of the title after he was found guilty of doping in the 2010 Tour de France. Runner-up Michele Scarponi was awarded the victory.
In the 2011 Giro d'Italia, Wouter Weylandt suffered a fatal crash on the 3rd stage.
Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian to win the Giro in 2012, beating Joaquim Rodríguez by 16 seconds. After gaining the lead after the eighth stage, Vincenzo Nibali won two more stages to help consolidate his lead and win the 2013 edition.