Brits at the Giro d’Italia: the 30 men to have flown the British flag at the Corsa Rosa

Every British rider to have started the Giro d'Italia, from Vin Denson in 1966 to 2017 debutants Adam Yates and Hugh Carthy

After two years without a Brit at the Giro d’Italia, three men will be flying the flag at the 100th edition of the Corsa Rosa.

Team Sky’s co-leader Geraint Thomas returns to the race for the first time since 2012, while rising stars Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and Hugh Carthy (Cannondale-Drapac) are making their Giro d’Italia debutants.

Geraint Thomas leads Team Sky at this year’s Giro d’Italia (pic – Sirotti)

Yates and Carthy are the 29th and 30th British riders to take on the Italian Grand Tour since Vin Denson opened the British account with a stage win at his debut Giro d’Italia in 1966.

So which other Brits have written their names into the 100-edition history of the Giro d’Italia? Let’s take a closer look…

Vin Denson (1966-1968)

As the nation’s footballers were preparing to write their names into the sporting history record books ahead of the 1966 World Cup, Vin Denson was writing his own chapter in British sporting legend.

The Chester-born rider, making his Giro debut with the Ford-France team of Jacques Anquetil, took advantage of a lull in the GC battle to seize his own opportunity on stage nine of the race.

Vin Denson was the first Brit to start, finish and win a stage of the Giro d’Italia (pic: Wendorf, via Wiki Commons)

Bolting clear of his two breakaway companions on the final climb, Denson claimed the first ever British stage win in the race, before finishing 40th overall – the first Brit to finish the Giro too.

He went on to race twice more, not finishing in 1967 before coming in 87th overall the following year – his final year as a professional.

Peter Hill (1967)

Former British Best All-Rounder Peter Hill raced the 1967 Giro d’Italia as a team-mate of Eddy Merckx on the Peugeot team, but did not finish the race.


Phil Edwards (1976-1980)

The first man to ride the Giro d’Italia as British champion, Phil Edwards made his Giro debut in 1976 – the only Brit to ride the Corsa Rosa in the 1970s.

British champion Phil Edwards races at the 1978 Giro d’Italia (pic – Sirotti)

After finishing 69th overall in his debut race, Edwards went on to race the next four editions of the Giro too – including his 1978 appearance as British champion.

The 1978 edition also saw his best stage result – second into Latina behind Italian Enrico Paolini – while he was 42nd overall in 1979, his best GC result.

Graham Jones (1983)

A former top-20 finisher at the Tour de France, and Clasica San Sebastian runner-up in 1981, Graham Jones raced his first-and-only Giro d’Italia in 1983 and finished 26th overall.

David J. Akam (1984-1985)

After winning the Chrono des Nations in 1983, Dave Akam was handed a professional contract with Francesco Moser’s Gis-Gelati team and made his Giro debut the following year.

He became a key domestique to Moser in that race, and featured regularly on the front of the bunch as the Italian legend sealed his first – and only – Giro d’Italia victory.

Dave Akam, centre, was the last British rider to support the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia (Francesco Moser, 1984) (pic – Sirotti)

Akam himself finished 137th overall – including a top-20 spot on the final stage time trial to prove his form – but remains the last Brit to have finished the Giro on the same team as the maglia rosa.

He started the race again the following year, but crashed out on stage nine and retired just a couple of years later having been plagued by illness throughout his pro career.

Robert Millar (1987)

While Ireland’s Stephen Roche took the headlines at the 1987 Giro d’Italia – going against team orders as he claimed the maglia rosa, the first part of his Triple Crown success, Britain’s Robert Millar was writing his own historic chapter.

Millar first pulled on the green King of the Mountains jersey after stage two, and did not relinquish it again for the rest of the race.

Robert Millar finished second overall and won the green King of the Mountains at his only Giro d’Italia in 1987 (pic – Sirotti)

He also went on to win the penultimate stage, on a summit finish in Pila, to become only the second Brit to win a Giro stage after Denson – a victory which propelled him to second overall behind Roche.

As well as being the first British rider to win one of the race’s secondary classifications, Millar’s second place remains the best British GC result at the Giro d’Italia.

Sean Yates (1987, 1989, 1992)

British hard man and former national champion Sean Yates is better known for his Tour de France exploits, where he both won a stage and briefly wore the yellow jersey despite his usual work as a domestique.

He also raced the Giro d’Italia three times, however, in 1987, 1989 and 1992 – the latter, including fourth place in Imola, was the only one he finished (in 87th place) and Yates carried that form into the nationals, where he claimed his only British champion’s jersey.

Wayne Bennington (1990)

Wayne Bennington was a team-mate of Robert Millar and Greg LeMond at Z, and raced his only Giro d’Italia for the latter in 1990 – finishing 63rd.

Harry Lodge (1992)

The 1992 Giro d’Italia was the first to feature three Brits and Harry Lodge – racing the Corsa Rosa for the first and only time, was the best placed overall in 48th place.

Harry Lodge was the highest-placed Brit at the 1992 Giro d’Italia (pic – Sirotti)


Malcolm Elliott (1992)

Three-time Vuelta a Espana stage winner Malcolm Elliot raced his only Giro d’Italia in 1992, finishing it in 115th place, before leaving Europe to race in America.

Max Sciandri (2000-2002)

Born in Derby, Max Sciandri raced as an Italian national until 1995, when he took British citizenship to compete at the 1996 Olympics (where he won a bronze medal in the road race).

As an Italian national, Sciandri raced the 1991, 1992 and 1994 Giros, winning a stage at each one.

Max Sciandri was a three-time stage winner, but all three came while he was still an Italian national (pic – Sirotti)

After taking up British citizenship he had to wait until 2000 to race another Giro – finishing second in Prato behind Axel Merckx for the Linda McCartney racing team, before going on to claim 67th place overall.

He joined Lampre-Daikin the following year and raced the Giro twice more – finishing a career high 58th overall in 2001.

Matthew Stephens (2000)

Matt Stephens earned widespread plaudits for his performance in the 2000 Giro d’Italia, battling on after a bad crash on a slick mountain descent on stage two.

After “literally fighting my way out of an ambulance” he finished the stage alone and outside of the time cut but was allowed to stay in the race by the race jury.

Matt Stephens earned widespread plaudits for his courageous ride in 2000 (pic – Sirotti)

He went on to stick it out for another fortnight before a chest infection, and the effects of his crash, finally forced him to quit what would be his only Giro d’Italia.

Bradley Wiggins (2003, 2005, 2008-2010, 2013)

Britain’s first ever Grand Tour winner, 2012 Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, raced the Giro d’Italia six times in all between 2003 and 2013.

He made his Grand Tour debut at the race in 2003 with Francaise des Jeux and then raced it with Credit Agricole in 2005.

Bradley Wiggins was the first Brit to ever pull on the Giro d’Italia’s pink jersey (pic – Sirotti)

In 2008, as he geared up for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, he finished fourth on the final stage time trial into Milan, and then went even closer the following year when he finished second in Rome.

In Team Sky’s first ever Grand Tour, in 2010, however, he finally bagged his first ever stage win – in the team’s first ever Giro stage – as he won the 8.4km time trial in Amsterdam to pull on the pink jersey for a day.

Unfortunately his 40th place overall in that race proved to be his best ever finish, however, as he crashed out of the 2013 race – his final ever Grand Tour – having started the race among the favourites.

Julian Winn (2003)

Julian Winn showcased the British champion’s jersey in his only Giro d’Italia in 2003, finishing what proved to be his only Grand Tour in 81st place.

Julian Winn was British champion at his only Giro d’Italia (pic – Sirotti)

Charly Wegelius (2003-2010)

No British rider has started the Giro d’Italia more times than Charly Wegelius, whose prowess as a domestique earned him eight consecutive starts between 2003 and 2010.

Among the riders Wegelius rode for at the Giro were Danilo di Luca and Vincenzo Nibali – though not during their race wins – while he clocked up 15 Grand Tour starts in all.

Charly Wegelius has raced the Giro d’Italia more than any other Brit (pic – Sirotti)

Individually, his best Giro stage result was fifth, in 2006, while he finished the 2010 Giro d’Italia in 29th place overall – his best Grand Tour result.

Steve Cummings (2007-2008, 2010, 2013)

The Giro d’Italia remains the one Grand Tour Steve Cummings does not have a stage win from, having started the race four times in all.

He enjoyed top-five finishes on stages in 2008 and 2010, but has not raced the Giro since helping Cadel Evans to a podium place overall back in 2013.

Geraint Thomas (2008, 2012, 2017)

Geraint Thomas started the 2017 Giro d’Italia among the leading GC contenders, bidding to become the first British rider to ever win the race.

Geraint Thomas bookended the 2012 Giro d’Italia by finishing second in both the prologue and final time trial (pic – Sirotti)

He has only raced the Giro twice before, however, prior to his Olympic appearances in 2008 and 2012, bookending the latter with second place finishes in the Herning prologue and final stage Milan time trial.

He took that form into the London 2012 Olympics, where he was part of Great Britain’s record-breaking, gold medal-winning team pursuit quartet.

Mark Cavendish (2008-2009, 2011-2013)

Mark Cavendish has won more Giro d’Italia stages than all the other British riders combined, having grabbed 15 sprint victories in all and worn the pink jersey four times.

Cavendish sealed his maiden Grand Tour stage wins at the Giro in 2008, and has won at least two stages at every one of his four Giro appearances since.

Mark Cavendish’s 15th career win at the Giro d’Italia sealed the red jersey in 2013 (pic – Sirotti)

He is also – alongside Robert Millar – one of only two Brits to have won one of the secondary classifications, when he topped the points classification in 2013 (something he has also achieved at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana).

He won five stages in all at that Giro, including bagging the 100th victory of his career, and sealed the points jersey on the final day with a sprint victory in Brescia.

David Millar (2008-2011, 2013)

David Millar became only the third British rider to wear the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia, just a day after Mark Cavendish had followed Bradley Wiggins to become the second.

It came in sombre circumstances, however, with the Scot learning immediately after the stage – in which he had finished second in the breakaway – that Wouter Weylandt had died in a crash further back on the road.

David Millar wore the pink jersey in 2011 but did so in sombre circumstances (pic – Sirotti)

He finished the race in happier circumstances, however, winning the final stage time trial into Milan to claim his first Giro stage win – becoming the third British rider, after Cavendish and Robert Millar to win a stage at all three Grand Tours.

That was the fourth of five Giro d’Italia appearances for Millar in all, all of which came after his comeback from his doping ban.

Chris Froome (2009-2010)

While he has won the Tour de France three times, and been second at the Vuelta a Espana on three occasions, Chris Froome’s relationship with the Giro d’Italia is a lot less illustrious.

He made his debut at the race with Barloworld in 2009, finishing sixth on a stage into Bologna and 32nd overall, before being part of Team Sky’s first ever Grand Tour line-up the following year.

Chris Froome has not enjoyed the same success at the Giro as he has at the Tour and Vuelta (pic – Sirotti)

Unfortunately, suffering a knee injury, Froome’s 2010 Giro d’Italia ended in ignominy when he was kicked out for holding onto a race motorbike.

He asserted he was doing so simply to get to the top of the climb he was on, having already decided to drop out due to his injury – a version of events backed by the team – but he has never raced the Giro since.

Jeremy Hunt (2009, 2012)

Jeremy Hunt raced his first Giro d’Italia with the Cervelo Test Team, finishing in 145th place, and his second and final Giro with Team Sky in 2012 – leaving what was to be his final Grand Tour after stage 13.


Daniel Lloyd (2009-2010)

Daniel Lloyd started and finished both the 2009 and 2010 Giro d’Italia with the Cervelo Test Team, riding for Carlos Sastre on both occasions.


Ian Stannard (2009, 2012)

Ian Stannard, aged 21, was one of the youngest riders on the startline when he made his Giro d’Italia – and Grand Tour – debut with ISD in 2009, but he has only raced it once since, in 2012 with Team Sky.

Ben Swift (2009, 2014)

Like Stannard, Ben Swift was just 21 when he made his Giro d’Italia – and Grand Tour – debut with Katusha in 2009, highlighting his potential with a third-place finish on the first road stage into Trieste.

It was five years before he raced the Giro, again, however as the only Brit on the Belfast startline in 2014.

Ben Swift finished second behind Marcel Kittel in Dublin in 2014 – the closest he has come to a Giro stage win (pic – Sirotti)

Swift finished second behind Marcel Kittel in Dublin on stage two but was unable to take that form into Italy as a pair of two eighth-placed finishes were his best results thereafter.

Nevertheless, he remains the last British rider to finish the Giro d’Italia – a record Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates and Hugh Carthy will be hoping to usurp in 2017.

Adam Blythe (2010-2011, 2013)

The Giro d’Italia remains the only Grand Tour Adam Blythe has ever ridden, starting the 2010 and 2011 races with Omega Pharma-Lotto and then finishing the Corsa Rosa for the first time in 2013 as part of Cadel Evans’ supporting cast.

Russell Downing (2011)

Russell Downing raced what has proved to be the only Grand Tour of his career as part of Team Sky’s nine-man line-up in 2011, finishing the race 139th overall.


Peter Kennaugh (2011-2012)

Peter Kennaugh raced the Giro d’Italia in consecutive years in 2011 and 2012, finishing 86th on his debut but not completing the race in 2012.

Alex Dowsett (2013)

Alex Dowsett marked his Grand Tour debut in some style in 2013, when he bagged a surprise time trial victory on the 54.8km stage eight, ahead of compatriot Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Racing in the blue, white and red-striped skinsuit of British national champion, the Movistar rider set an average speed of a fraction over 43km/h to record what remains one of the biggest stage wins of his career.

Alex Dowsett bagged the biggest win of his career at the 2013 Giro d’Italia (pic – Sirotti)

He has, however, never raced the Giro d’Italia since, with injury ruling him out in 2016, before being omitted from Nairo Quintana’s supporting line-up in 2017.

Hugh Carthy (2017)

Having signed to a WorldTour team, Cannondale-Drapac, for the first time in the winter, Hugh Carthy – who made his Grand Tour debut at the 2016 Vuelta a Espana – is racing the Giro d’Italia for the first time this year.


Adam Yates (2017)

Another Giro d’Italia debutant this year, Adam Yates is bidding to win the white jersey of Best Young Rider at the 2017 race.

The Bury-born rider was initially due to race with twin brother Simon, but Orica-Scott switched Simon to the Tour, leaving Adam – the youth classification winner at last year’s Tour – to target the Giro GC on his own.

Only Andy Schleck and Nairo Quintana have previously claimed the white jersey at both the Giro and Tour.


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