Belfast Telegraph

Italy chief hails high quality Gran Fondo Northern Ireland ahead of Rome date

By Steven Beacom

One of the most influential figures in Italian cycling has praised the success of the Gran Fondo in Northern Ireland.

And ahead of next month's Granfondo Campagnolo Roma in the Italian capital, Gianluca Santilli, who is responsible for amateur cycling in the Italian Federation and promoter of the Bike Economy, has invited riders from Northern Ireland to take part and compete in the big event in the eternal city.

The Gran Fondo Northern Ireland is a legacy of the iconic Giro d'Italia race which started in Belfast in 2014.

The Giro proved to be a hugely popular event with the Northern Ireland public and the Gran Fondo has taken on that mantle with thousands taking part over the last two years.

The success of the Northern Ireland version of the Gran Fondo has clearly made an impression around the globe.

Preparing for the Italian event, Mr Santilli made a point of noting how the public across Ulster have taken cycling to their hearts.

He said: "We have seen the success and growth of Gran Fondo events around the world.

"Look at Northern Ireland - after hosting a very successful Giro d'Italia Grande Partenza, the official legacy event, Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia NI, has been born.

"The people of Northern Ireland are once again falling in love with the bicycle."

Mr Santilli added: "We would welcome Northern Ireland riders interested in coming to Rome in October with open arms."

The Granfondo Campagnolo Roma takes place on October 7-9 and runs a variety of races for experienced riders, cycling enthusiasts and children.

If you are interested in taking part, register at: http://www.granfondoroma.com/

Meanwhile, a special cycling event is coming to Northern Ireland on November 26 with the now annual Emerald Fund banquet being staged at Titanic Belfast.

Among the guests will be former Scratch Race World champion Martyn Irvine, who, fresh from an impressive stint as an Olympic Games pundit for RTE, is coming out of retirement to race again.

Highly respected Irish riders Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche will also be in attendance for the glittering event, which raises money for charity.

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