Belfast Telegraph

The Giro d'Italia: give them a welcome they'll never forget

By Mike Gilson

There's a lot of things we are famous or even infamous for in Northern Ireland. Perhaps two of the things we should be better recognised for are the warmth of our welcome and the enthusiasm with which we adopt new events.

Both of these will be on display for the next four days as we welcome the Giro d'Italia to these shores. Hundreds of riders, thousands of team support workers, thousands of journalists and tens of thousands of spectators will combine to provide a whirlwind of colour, thrills, spills, excitement and glamour that will be rain-proof!

Even if you don't understand what's going on or how someone wins the race, it doesn't matter. It's the spectacle that counts. And while the race itself, the riders in the garish colours, the support vehicles and managers will provide much of the excitement, Northern Ireland's wonderful scenery and our generous and excited support will be the perfect backdrop.

This newspaper also believes in properly celebrating the good things when they come along. That is why we have produced this special pink paper Giro special "wrap" supplement around the Belfast Telegraph today. In it you will find all you need to know about the opening Northern Irish stages of one of the greatest (the Italians say THE greatest!) cycle races on the planet. We hope you enjoy it and more importantly get out a give a great Northern Irish welcome to the Giro.

Giro events over the next four days

1. Tonight the Giro d'Italia gets under way with the sold-out ticketed opening ceremony at Belfast City Hall. The riders of each of the 22 teams made up of the nine superstars of the cycling world will be introduced to the crowds. Gates open at 5pm – please note ticket-only.

2. A Family Fun Day at the Stormont Estate tomorrow. The Giro practice session will take place at Stormont from 10am, with the festival in full swing from 3pm for the time trial until the last team flies through just after 8pm.

3. Practice Session & Team Time Trials tomorrow. Check out the Giro Paddock at Titanic Quarter where the teams hang out, and visit the Fan Zone

4. A Giro festival 'Get on yer Bike' has begun at Cathedral Gardens and Writers' Square. Food, fashion, art, music and performance with an an Italian and pink twist!

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