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2014 Giro to start in Ireland

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will host the first three days of next year's Giro d'Italia, it has been confirmed.

The race, one of the three major Grand Tours along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana, will begin with a 21.7km team time trial starting at the Titanic Belfast museum on May 9.

The second day will see a 218km road stage starting and finishing in Belfast and winding up the Antrim coast to the Giant's Causeway, before a 187km haul on day three from Armagh to Dublin.

The official schedule for next year's race was announced at a lavish ceremony in Milan on Monday, despite the absence of race director Michele Aquarone, who has been suspended pending an investigation into the possible misappropriation of up to £11million of the race's funds.

The race is due to finish on June 1 in Trieste. It is the second of the three Grand Tours to declare its intention to start in the UK next year, with Yorkshire hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour de France on July 5.

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