The 2014 Giro d’Italia will start in Northern Ireland – it will be the 11th time the race has started outside Italy.
The cycling race will begin on 9 May 2014 with three stages in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It will finish on 1 June in Trieste, Italy.
The Giro d’Italia will stage its Grande Partenza (Big Start), in Belfast and Dublin. Race days one and two will be staged in Belfast; with day three’s race travelling from Armagh to Dublin. A host of special events will take place in the run-up to the arrival of more than 200 of the world’s top professional cyclists.
Northern Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster said: “The Giro d’Italia is one of the world’s foremost cycling spectacles, an iconic Grand Tour of huge significance to cycling fans and indeed all sports fans around the globe. Plans are already in motion to make the occasion a fabulous celebration worthy of Italian cycling traditions and the maglia rosa (pink jersey) itself. There will be a whole range of events and activities staged before and during the races.”
The Giro has started ten times outside of Italy. The first time was in 1965, when the race started in San Marino. Since then, the Grande Partenza has been staged in Belgium, Vatican City, Greece, Monaco, Holland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
First organised in 1909 to promote the newspaper ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’, the Giro gained prominence and is now one of the world’s largest sporting events, with 12.5 million live spectators over the three weeks of the event. Along with the Tour de France and Vuelta d’Espana, the Giro makes up cycling’s most prestigious three-week long Grand Tours. While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with the appearance of at least two time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Dolomites and the Alps, and the finish in one of Italy’s most important cities.