Foster greets Giro d’Italia organisers
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed a delegation from the organisers of the 2014 Giro d’Italia to Parliament Buildings.
The Grande Partenza or 'Big Start' of the Giro d'Italia, one of professional cycling's three Grand Tour events, will take place over three days from 10-12 May 2014 and involves routes in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin.
The Italian race organisers, RCS Sports, were in Northern Ireland this week to carry out detailed inspections in preparation for the prestigious event.
The 23-strong RCS team was looking at potential routes and making technical inspections of possible start and finish sites both in Belfast and Armagh, as well as viewing accommodation, race headquarters and press centre areas.
Arlene Foster said: “I believe we in Northern Ireland can work with RCS Sport to deliver a fantastic spectacle that will satisfy cycling fans here and around the world.
“I have no doubt that the Giro will be an unforgettable experience for everyone in Northern Ireland and those who travel here to see it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close to some of the world’s best cyclists and experience a world-class event.
“Our key attractions, such as the city of Belfast, Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route, the historic city of Armagh and our lush green countryside will give race organisers plenty of choices when it comes to finalising routes. Our spectacular backdrops will not only showcase Northern Ireland, they will also create excellent broadcast images.”
The successful bid by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), in association with Belfast City Council, to host The Grande Partenza or 'Big Start' of the Giro d'Italia means over 200 of the top professional cyclists from across the globe will be coming to Northern Ireland to take part.
The race is viewed around the world by a potential audience of 800 million and the NITB believes the exposure will help encourage visitors to explore Northern Ireland’s excellent cycling facilities.
There will be three days of pre-race celebrations in Belfast, followed by spectacular opening stages in Northern Ireland before a final race from Armagh to Dublin.
After the opening stages the cyclists will fly from Dublin to continue the race in Italy.
The entire route, including the Italian stages, will be announced in October.
Belfast Telegraph Digital