Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Biting Back: We're all in the pink after the Giro d'Italia

Marcel Kittel of team Giant Shimano wins the second stage of the Giro d'Italia in Belfast
Marcel Kittel of team Giant Shimano wins the second stage of the Giro d'Italia in Belfast

You know something out of the ordinary is taking place when you see a sign on the M1 motorway, advising: 'Giro d'Italia. Co Armagh roads closed'. A year ago you couldn't have made it up.

The resounding success of the Giro's visit to our wee country can be separated, like cycle racing, into several categories, all of which augur well for future events, like the Open golf to Portrush, descending.

From a purely sporting point of view it was hugely impressive. As a spectacle, which most people turned out to view, it was magnificent to watch, probably unsurpassed in the pelaton of major events to have graced these shores in recent years, each one raising the bar for the next.

Above all, it was an organisational triumph that sends out a big 'Yes we can' to the watching world.

From the Giro professionals through to the volunteers at local level and our own police, ambulance and rescue services... thanks to their efforts, it ran seamlessly. This was Northern Ireland at its best.

The trick cycle act the Stormont paymasters now have to perform is balancing the funding of one-off big events with support for those which showcase us year in, year out.

Like the big bikes with engines revving up on the coast to get North West 200 Race Week underway tomorrow.

Compared to the millions poured into the Giro, the North West, also televised globally, runs on petrol fumes in terms of financial support and has done for over 80 years. It's the same across the whole local sporting spectrum.

After the last three incredible days, no-one begrudges a cent spent on the Giro. But the North West (and the rest) will be back next year with local competitors and likely local winners. We should get back on our bikes and support them.

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