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Gran Fondo 2016: Thousands pedal off from Titanic Belfast start

After spectacular introduction in 2015, the Gran Fondo is back in Northern Ireland and bigger than ever before

By Steven Beacom

Published 05/06/2016

The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Mark Kane as he wins The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Stephen Roche The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Joanna Miskelly, female winner of the Strangford route.
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Sammy Douglas watching on as he is unable to partake due to a cycling accident earlier in the week during The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Winners of the Strangford team race Titanic Quarter Cycling Club with Giani Bugno and Stephen Roche Press Eye - Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo - Titanic Slipway - 5th June 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan / Presseye
Winners of the Mourne Route Ladies (L-R) Third Orla Montague, first Kathryn Smyth and Second Laura Wylie Press Eye - Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo - Titanic Slipway - 5th June 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan / Presseye
Winners of the Mourne Route Men (L-R) ThirdSean McIntyre, first Mark Kane and Second David Hamilton with Mark's nephew Ryan Press Eye - Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo - Titanic Slipway - 5th June 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan / Presseye
Winners of the Strangford team race Titanic Quarter Cycling Club Press Eye - Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo - Titanic Slipway - 5th June 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan / Presseye
Winners of the Mourne Route Team race Dave Kane Cycles Press Eye - Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo - Titanic Slipway - 5th June 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan / Presseye
Winners of the Mourne Route Men (L-R) ThirdSean McIntyre, first Mark Kane and Second David Hamilton with Mark's nephew Ryan Press Eye - Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo - Titanic Slipway - 5th June 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan / Presseye
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The largest cycling club Titanic CC The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Ireland on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it takes off from the Titanic Building and passes through the streets and roads of Northern Irealnd on June 05 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Members of the Titanic Cycling Club prepared for the Gran Fondo 2015. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Telegraph man Colin O'Carroll at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Gran Fondo winners celebrate. Pic: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Lakeside Wheelers from Mullingar. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Brian Flynn from Waterford. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Sarah, Adele and Matthew Davidson from Newtownabbey. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Duncan Campbell of the Titanic Cycling Club. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Patrick Murphy from Waterford. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Gran Fondo winners on the podium. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Misia Rookigues and Gerard Magill. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Mark Kane winner of the Grand Fondo. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Stuart Millar from Newtownards and Lydia Murphy from Saintfield. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Hand and hand in the rain across the line. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Joe McAuley from Newtownabbey. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Rev John Dickinson from Carnmoney Presbyterian Church. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Jessica (8), Tom and Finley (3) Faulks from Lisburn. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Ryan Kane (6). Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Patrick O'Reilly and Johnny McBrien from Lisnaskea. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Three generations of the Kane Cycles family celebrate Marke Kanes win at the end of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon. Winner Mark Kane on right with his father Dave nephew Ryan and brother Paul ,(left) who finished second behind his brother.
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Winner Mark Kane explains how he was injured with cuts on his arms and legs after coming off in a collision with a police motorbike escort near the end of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon.
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Winner Mark Kane with cuts on his arms and legs after coming off in a collission with a police escort motor cycle near the end of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon.
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Mark Kane wins the Mournes Run of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon.
Joelene Browning from Lisburn. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan Stephen Roche at the start line. The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/06/2015 Gran Fondo Giro The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland makes it's way back to the Titanic Quarter. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/06/2015 Gran Fondo Giro The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland makes it's way back to the Titanic Quarter. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/06/2015 Gran Fondo Giro The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland makes it's way back to the Titanic Quarter. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Paul Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the race leader of the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
First three finishers in the Strangford Route Keith Murphy (2nd), Chris McKeown (Winner) and Paul Mikugis (3rd). Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Chris McKeown winner of the Strangford Route of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Keith Murphy, who suffers from leukaemia, finished second in the Strangford Route of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Joelene Browning from Lisburn at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Jessica (8), Tom and Finley (3) Faulks from Lisburn at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Gordon McKay at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Joe McAuley from Newtownabbey at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Alex McGreevy at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Cathir Doyle (13) from Magherafelt, winner of the NI Tourist Board race in the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Belfast Telegraph's Riona O'Kane and Lee Taylor at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Trudy Brown from Belfast saddles up for the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Teresa Ramdi from Italy and Isabella Romoli from Dublin with the Giro DItalia trophy at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Charlie Stewart (5) from Ballynure at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
East Belfast MLA Sammy Douglas at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Taveling in tamdem at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
At the start of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Read for the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Thumbs up for the Mourne Route start at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Patrick O'Reilly and Johnny McBrien from Lisnaskea take a breather after the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Mary McCreesh and Grainne King from Co Fermannagh with their medals from the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Ryan Kane (6) at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
John McKeag (93) who worked as a welder at Harland and Wolff at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Hand and hand in the rain across the line at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
John McKeag (93) and his brother Milton McKeag (88) at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Mark Kane winner of the Grand Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Riders taking a corner during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Omagh Wheelers at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Keeping in touch during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Gale Sergeant and Boris from Newtownabbey enjoying the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Starting off at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Off the line at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Gearing up for the start of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Richie Port and Stephen Roche at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Stephen Roche moves to the start beside Richie Port at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Whiterock Wheelers checking the brakes ahead of the off at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Miaread McGurk and Samanatha Convery of Carn Cycle Club at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
David Maguire all the way from Sydney Australia at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Denise Todd from Banbridge at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Mambers of the Dave Kane Cycle Club ahead of the start of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Checking the figures at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Orla Wright, Elaine O'Boyle and Rosemary O'Kane fro the Glenns Cycling Club at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia gets underway at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia heads out of the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia begins at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia heads out of the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.

The Gran Fondo is back in Northern Ireland.

First time around it was a big success and 12 months on this wonderful sporting event promises to be even better.

On Sunday June 5, almost 4,000 cyclists will ride around Northern Ireland enjoying the stunning routes and savouring the feelgood atmosphere.

There will be some who will be keen to win the race, others will want to post fast times and then there will be those who just want to go out in the open air, get on their bike and have lots of fun.

It’s that mix of the elite and amateur riders pedalling over the same roads that makes the Gran Fondo so special.

In 2015, around 3,000 people took part when this celebration of cycling was first staged in Northern Ireland.

Many of them will be involved again, but there will also be rookies ready to give it a try.

The beauty about the Gran Fondo is that it is a mass participation cycling event, where everyone is welcomed; from the battle hardened rider to new kids racing round the block.

The Gran Fondo experience has been popular for years across Europe and in North America.

Now the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland is making its mark amongst the cycling fraternity, so much so that competitors are travelling here from countries such as Australia, Spain, Sweden, Canada, France, Germany, Lithuania, Malaysia, Norway and the USA to take part.

Gran Fondo winners celebrate. Pic: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Gran Fondo winners celebrate. Pic: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Gran Fondo winners on the podium. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Lakeside Wheelers from Mullingar. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Brian Flynn from Waterford. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Sarah, Adele and Matthew Davidson from Newtownabbey. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Duncan Campbell of the Titanic Cycling Club. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Patrick Murphy from Waterford. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Misia Rookigues and Gerard Magill. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Mark Kane winner of the Grand Fondo. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Stuart Millar from Newtownards and Lydia Murphy from Saintfield. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Hand and hand in the rain across the line. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Joe McAuley from Newtownabbey. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Rev John Dickinson from Carnmoney Presbyterian Church. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Jessica (8), Tom and Finley (3) Faulks from Lisburn. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Ryan Kane (6). Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Patrick O'Reilly and Johnny McBrien from Lisnaskea. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Winner Mark Kane explains how he was injured with cuts on his arms and legs after coming off in a collision with a police motorbike escort near the end of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon.
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Winner Mark Kane with cuts on his arms and legs after coming off in a collission with a police escort motor cycle near the end of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon.
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Mark Kane wins the Mournes Run of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon.
Joelene Browning from Lisburn. Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Gran Fondo Giro DItalia Northern Ireland Sunday 21st June 2015 Titanic Quarter Belfast Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan Stephen Roche at the start line. The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/06/2015 Gran Fondo Giro The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland makes it's way back to the Titanic Quarter. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/06/2015 Gran Fondo Giro The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland makes it's way back to the Titanic Quarter. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/06/2015 Gran Fondo Giro The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland makes it's way back to the Titanic Quarter. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland - Titanic Belfast - 21 June 2015 Presseye Delan Roughan The Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland gets underway from the titanic slipway in Belfast. Some 3,000 riders headed off on either the Strangford route or the Mourne route.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Paul Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the race leader of the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia as it Passes through the Dromara Road close to Ballyroney in Banbridge Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2015 - Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland Pictured is Winner Mark Kane during the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 21-6-2015 Three generations of the Kane Cycles family celebrate Marke Kanes win at the end of the Giro dItalia Gran Fondo at the Titanic slipway finishing line this afternoon. Winner Mark Kane on right with his father Dave nephew Ryan and brother Paul ,(left) who finished second behind his brother.
Gran Fondo winners after the day's racing. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Mark Kane, winner of the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
First three finishers in the Strangford Route Keith Murphy (2nd), Chris McKeown (Winner) and Paul Mikugis (3rd). Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Winner Mark Kane as he crosses the line at Titianic Quarter in Belfast during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Chris McKeown winner of the Strangford Route of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Keith Murphy, who suffers from leukaemia, finished second in the Strangford Route of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Telegraph man Colin O'Carroll at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Joelene Browning from Lisburn at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Jessica (8), Tom and Finley (3) Faulks from Lisburn at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Gordon McKay at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Joe McAuley from Newtownabbey at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Alex McGreevy at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Cathir Doyle (13) from Magherafelt, winner of the NI Tourist Board race in the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Belfast Telegraph's Riona O'Kane and Lee Taylor at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Trudy Brown from Belfast saddles up for the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Teresa Ramdi from Italy and Isabella Romoli from Dublin with the Giro DItalia trophy at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Charlie Stewart (5) from Ballynure at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
East Belfast MLA Sammy Douglas at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Taveling in tamdem at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
At the start of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Read for the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Thumbs up for the Mourne Route start at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Patrick O'Reilly and Johnny McBrien from Lisnaskea take a breather after the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Mary McCreesh and Grainne King from Co Fermannagh with their medals from the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Ryan Kane (6) at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
John McKeag (93) who worked as a welder at Harland and Wolff at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Hand and hand in the rain across the line at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
John McKeag (93) and his brother Milton McKeag (88) at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Mark Kane winner of the Grand Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Riders taking a corner during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Omagh Wheelers at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Keeping in touch during the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Gale Sergeant and Boris from Newtownabbey enjoying the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Starting off at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Off the line at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Gearing up for the start of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Richie Port and Stephen Roche at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Stephen Roche moves to the start beside Richie Port at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Whiterock Wheelers checking the brakes ahead of the off at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Members of the Titanic Cycling Club prepared for the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Miaread McGurk and Samantha Convery of Carn Cycle Club at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
David Maguire came all the way from Sydney, Australia for the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Denise Todd from Banbridge at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Members of the Dave Kane Cycle Club ahead of the start of the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Checking the figures at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Orla Wright, Elaine O'Boyle and Rosemary O'Kane fro the Glenns Cycling Club at the Gran Fondo. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
The Gran Fondo gets underway at the Titanic slipway in Belfast. Presseye/Delan Roughan.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Buildup to the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia gets underway at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia heads out of the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia begins at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia heads out of the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.
Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Pic: Kevin Scott /Presseye.

Think about that for a second. From all over the globe people will make their way to our wee country for this special occasion.

Expect an Italian flavour too.

After all, the Gran Fondo was invented in Italy. The idea to bring it to Northern Ireland flourished on the back of the announcement that the world renowned Giro d’Italia cycling race would be coming to the place we call home in 2014.

More: Clergyman vents his frustration as Gran Fondo road closures force church to cancel children's service

Back then when people thought about sports connected with Northern Ireland, cycling would not have been uppermost in most minds, but the monumental success of the Giro two years ago changed that.

For three days, thousands and thousands of spectators lined our roads and streets to cheer on the world’s top riders as the Giro’s ‘Big Start’ in Northern Ireland became one of the Giro’s biggest hits.

I recall talking to cycling heroes like Nairo Quintana and Marcel Kittel about how enthused they were to race in front of so many excited and supportive people as Northern Ireland turned pink, the colour associated with the Giro.

Following the glory of the Giro in Belfast and beyond, there was an increase in cyclists whizzing around our roads.

The Gran Fondo has enhanced a growing legacy with plans to continue for years to come.

If organisers were overwhelmed by the response to last year’s event — the first of its kind in Northern Ireland — they have been hugely encouraged that numbers have risen for the 2016 showpiece.

This year’s Gran Fondo on Sunday, June 5 promises to give participants a truly authentic Giro experience with fully policed closed roads.

Just like last year there are two routes, one long at 175km called the Mourne Route and the other not so long, the Strangford Route at 58km with both beginning and ending at the Titanic Belfast building.

The Mourne Route will challenge the fittest riders by providing tough climbs and take them through some breathtaking scenery including the Spelga Dam and Slieve Croob with views over Lough Neagh.

The Strangford Route is a loop achievable for beginner and novice cyclists covering a route around North Down with the beauty of Strangford Lough to keep them company for much of the way.

More: Gran Fondo Northern Ireland: Take a ride of the 2016 Strangford route

Participants will enjoy mechanical support, fully stocked food and hydration stations on both routes.

Come the finish there will be huge pride for all the riders as they complete the respective courses and deservedly receive their medals.

And consider this, Giro d’Italia Winners, World Cycling Champions and legends of the sport Stephen Roche and Gianni Bugno will also be riding on June 5.

That’s like going out for a run and having Lord Sebastian Coe or Dame Kelly Holmes jogging alongside you!

The Gran Fondo truly is an event for all. And it won’t be over when riders cross the line.

There will be opportunities to have photographs taken with the iconic Giro Trophy at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, here a post ride pasta party and a closing ceremony will take place.

There will also be loads of family activities as part of the Northern Ireland Festival of Cycling, which will include a televised round of Street Velodrome, the UK pop up track series.

It’s worth noting that the Gran Fondo here is not only for cycling lovers — it is for all the country.

It is a major boost for the economy with hotels, restaurants and shops among those reaping the benefits of having so many visitors and locals spending money.

And let’s not forget about the inspiration factor for our children to see thousands of people involved in such a healthy pursuit.

Maybe your child will get on their bike and join in the fun and who knows perhaps on the back of the Gran Fondo, Northern Ireland could find another world champion like Martyn Irvine from Newtownards or Wendy Houvenaghel from Upperlands.

Either way, we should all be overjoyed that the Gran Fondo is in Northern Ireland again.

Here’s to another brilliant event.

If you are competing on June 5 have a great time and even if you aren’t give the riders a cheer if you see them.

It may have been made in Italy, but come Sunday, Northern Ireland will make the Gran Fondo its own.

Online Editors

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