Cycling ace 'feels safe' in Ulster
Published 07/05/2014 | 17:42
One of the world's top cyclists has said he feels safe in Northern Ireland despite its past troubles.
Cadel Evans is expected to shine for Australia during the Giro D'Italia, which starts in Belfast on Friday.
The arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams last week threw the spotlight on the country's violent history.
But Evans said: "We understand all countries have had their troubles over the past.
"I hope by the number of police we see around we are going to be safe, aren't we?
"I can't imagine the Giro organisers would think to have the race if it was going to be unsafe.
"I feel safe and not every country we race in the world is that safe.
"That is part of the job, we have to race here, we don't have much choice on that anyway."
Evans became the first Australian and, at 34, the oldest man in 88 years to win the Tour de France in 2011.
He is hoping to repeat the feat and become a victor at the Giro.
Northern Ireland has emerged from 30 years of conflict to enjoy relative peace but the country's controversial past was highlighted recently with the arrest of Mr Adams by police investigating the murder of west Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville in 1972.
He was released without charge on Sunday night.
Evans is one of the leading contenders for the Giro crown, which is the world's second most important cycling race.
The event's Big Start is being held over three days, or stages, in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A tradition of the event is often holding its beginning outside Italy.
Much of Northern Ireland has gone pink for the occasion. Pink is the colour worn by the leading rider.
Friday's opening event will be a time trial setting off from the docks where the Titanic was launched and including the regional parliament at Stormont.
On Saturday the action takes in the dramatic North Coast before the elite cyclists depart from Ireland's ecclesiastical capital, Armagh, on Sunday for Dublin.