Discovery to make return to cycling by buying Giro d'Italia?

Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport is for sale, with interest from American companies Discovery Communications and IMG, and Chinese company Infront Sports & Media

Alberto Contador on stage twenty of the 2015 Tour of Italy

(Image credit: Watson)

The Giro d'Italia could change hands if a planned sale goes through in the next week when current owner RCS Mediagroup is due to put it on the market to one of three likely buyers.

The sporting subsidiary of the publishing house will lose the name RCS Sport, and possibly its European heritage. Currently, RCS Sport is decidedly Italian thanks to the work that Angelo Rizzoli began, but the Giro and its sister events like Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo could soon take their cues from America or China.

Three offers are on the table in RCS Mediagroup's Milan offices, according to financial newspaper Milano Finanza. One is coming in from China's richest man Wang Jianlin and two from the USA, Discovery Communications and IMG.

>>> RCS Sport, organiser of the Giro d’Italia, set to be sold

Discovery Channel sponsored Lance Armstrong's team for three years with its TV money. In the USA it reaches 83 per cent of households and in the UK, it is part of SkyDigital's subscription with programmes like Wheeler Dealers, How It's Made and Deadliest Catch. IMG specialises in TV rights, being RCS Sport's media partner over the last three years, and produces the cycling show inCycle.

IMG is also a direct rival with Infront Sports & Media, Wang Jianlin's new company. Wang brought the World Triathlon Corporation along with Ironman and Infront together in November to create Wanda Sports, which is ideal to buy RCS Sport.

If not the most adapt as a real estate guru, he maybe the most likely with his Wanda Group, parent company of Wanda Sports, reported revenues of £26.1 billion. Already this April he purchased 20 per cent in Atletico Madrid for £34m

>>> Giro d’Italia 2016 route officially revealed

What the new owners could do to the races under RCS Sport's umbrella remains unknown, but one idea is that one of the three candidates could put a modern spin on a sometimes comes across as ancient events. With a few tweaks, which Michele Acquarone tried and Paolo Bellino continued, the Giro could quickly gain ground on its French cousin, the Tour de France.

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Discovery and IMG have links in the media and TV world abroad that would make the Giro's step up that much easier. In July, Discovery Communications purchased the European broadcast rights for the Olympic Games between 2018 and 2024 for €1.3 billion, or £950m. The deal followed Discovery’s agreement to purchase the remaining 49 per cent of Eurosport for €491m (£358m).

The deal could happen quick and changes could come as soon as 2016, when the Giro will celebrate its 99th edition. According to website Tutto Bici, these are "giorni di attività frenetica" or "days of frenetic activity" for RCS. Its CEO Laura Cioli will present a new three-year plan to the board members on Friday and on Monday, RCS Sport could already be sold.

The sell must happen soon to help RCS Mediagroup reduce its €440m (£312m) debt.

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