Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Cross-border bid for cycling event

Cycling star Mark Cavendish has previously competed in the Giro d'Italia
Cycling star Mark Cavendish has previously competed in the Giro d'Italia

Belfast and Dublin have teamed up in a bid to win the race to stage part of the world's second biggest cycling event.

A cross-border submission to host the opening stages of the Giro d'Italia in 2014 has been put together by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Failte Ireland in conjunction with Stormont and the Irish government.

If successful, it would mean a six-day cycling extravaganza featuring up to 200 of the world's most high-profile riders.

Total costs for the submission have been estimated at £3.8 million (4.7 million euro). However, it is predicted that the race - which is second only to the Tour de France - could generate up to £10 million (12.4 million euro) for the local economy.

The majority of the funding will be provided by the NITB. However, Belfast City Council has also been asked to commit £400,000 plus use of its Waterfront Hall.

A confidential report seen by the Press Association suggests plans are at an advanced stage and confirms that an agent has been appointed to submit the speculative bid.

A spokesman for the Dublin-based company Shade Tree Sports, which helped facilitate the Tour of Ireland, said: "It is an ongoing project." The spokesman claimed more details could emerge within the next week to 10 days.

Like the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia has a "Grande Partenza" (big start) which can take place in other countries.

It has been proposed that this event would take place over the bank holiday weekend of May 2 to 4, 2014. The Grande Partenza is traditionally formatted over six days, with the first three taken up with festival-type events in preparation. The remaining three days would see actual racing with individual or team time trials.

The joint Belfast/Dublin bid will be up against a number of other Italian cities.

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