Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Is this the best spot to watch the Giro d'Italia?

The hairpin bend at Dunluce Road near Portrush will give a magnificent view of the race
The hairpin bend at Dunluce Road near Portrush will give a magnificent view of the race

This is the stunning view which will form the backdrop as one of the biggest events in world sport comes to Northern Ireland.

In just over three weeks the narrow roads which hug the picturesque North Coast will come alive with the colour and spectacle of the Giro d'Italia.

The three-day event is set to draw 140,000 visitors, including 42,000 from outside the region.

And this could be the standout vantage point.

Set against the background of the Atlantic Ocean, spectators will see riders tested to the max as they wind their way around a hairpin bend onto Dunluce Road near Portrush during stage two of the race.

The Giro, one of cycling's flagship events, gets under way in Belfast on May 9 with the sport's top names wheeling their way through miles of spectacular countryside.

It is the first time the Grande Partenza – or Big Start – has been held in Northern Ireland.

Thousands of spectators will line the 426.7km route, which winds its way through Belfast and along the Causeway coast. It will then head to Armagh before finishing in Dublin on the Sunday.

Yesterday – 25 days before the Giro starts – key agencies involved in staging the event came together at Belfast City Hall.

Stephen Gallagher, route technical director, said cyclists could reach speeds of up to 60kph at some points.

Around 200 of the world's elite riders will take part. The Irish contingent should include Dan Martin, Philip Deignan and Nicholas Roche, son of 1987 Giro winner Stephen.

And Mr Gallagher hinted one of the Irish could emulate that historic triumph.

"For the first time in a generation Ireland probably has the potential to not only win stages but maybe win overall," he said.

Mr Gallagher represents Shadetree Sports, which is working with the RCS Italian media company behind the event, and said organisers were "extremely satisfied" with progress.

The Giro will pull in millions of pounds to the economy, but one of the biggest legacies could be a growth in cycling here, with more people ditching their cars for bicycles.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, a keen cyclist, said he hoped the buzz would encourage others to switch to pedal power.

"The Giro will come and go, and yes it will be a marvellous event and it will be great to be part of it, but the legacy will be trying to encourage more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The event itself is a brilliant event, it is worldwide and it is iconic, but for the people and the legacy, let's build on the momentum and do that by rolling out the cycling revolution."

The Giro will require a huge policing operation involving several hundred PSNI officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, who is in charge of the planning, said officers would be supported by 1,200 volunteers.

He also revealed officers had been liaising with colleagues from Yorkshire, where the opening stages of the Tour de France are being staged in July.

Mr Todd said a "bubble" would be put around the riders and their support teams as they move along the route.

He said it was inevitable there would be some disruption to road users.

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