Gran Fondo Northern Ireland: Take a ride of the 2016 Strangford route
Sun, sun and more sun was promised by weather forecasters - and didn't it deliver.
Sun, sun and more sun was promised by weather forecasters - and didn't it deliver.
Benvenuto, Gran Fondo! Thousands of men, women and children will be getting on their bikes today and tomorrow as Northern Ireland gets in the pink once more with Giro d'Italia fever.
The Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia will see thousands of cyclists tackling some of the most historic and iconic climbs in Northern Ireland. Some roads will be fully closed for the race.
2014 will surely go down as one of the vintage years in Northern Ireland sport. From McIlroy to Frampton, from Gallagher to Dunlop, our sportsmen and women excelled. Here, Ali Gordon looks back over a dozen of the memorable triumphs.
Cycling fans rejoice - the first of three Gran Fondo events to be held in Northern Ireland takes place on June 21, 2015.
Northern Ireland didn't quite know what hit it. For a country more used to getting worked up over red, white and blue and green, white and gold, the place we call home turned a bright shade of PINK earlier this year.
Cycling enthusiasts are set to relive the brilliance of the Giro d'Italia next May as teams from across Europe will descend on Northern Ireland's roads for one of Ireland's longest running races, the AmberGreen Energy Tour of Ulster.
Nairo Quintana plans to target next year's Tour de France after celebrating victory in the Giro d'Italia yesterday.
Whether you ride fast or slow, there's no taking it easy on a mountain time trial.
Nairo Quintana is on course for victory in the Giro d'Italia after stretching his lead in the race by claiming victory on the mountain time trial stage from Bassano de Grappa to Cima Grappa.
Trek's Julian Arredondo celebrated a solo victory atop Valsugana at the Giro d'Italia in what was a day for Colombian riders with Fabio Duarte finishing second and Nairo Quintana holding onto the maglia rosa.
Congratulations to Philip Deignan from Donegal. He put in a great ride yesterday to get third on a very tough mountain stage and it's really great to see him back doing what he does best.
Stefano Pirazzi delighted the home fans by winning stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia in Vittorio Veneto yesterday.
Of the five stages left on this Giro as we rolled out of the start in Sarnonico, yesterday was the best hope of a breakaway group staying clear to contest the finish.
Although yesterday was the biggest mountain stage of the Giro, with three huge passes to be traversed, at the start you would have been forgiven for thinking yesterday was a team time trial.
After a mountain stage on a Grand Tour there is usually a big scramble to get a warm jacket on and cycle back to the team bus, which is normally parked at the bottom.
I'd a long day in the break on Saturday, so I was pretty tired yesterday morning, but luckily enough we had a flat start, even if it was very fast.
For the past few days my team-mate Rafal Majka has been getting various awards each time he goes onto the podium to collect his white jersey for best young rider.
Having crashed on a descent and fallen into a muddy ditch, my Danish team-mate Chris Anker Sorensen finished Wednesday's stage looking like he'd been dragged through a hedge.
On paper, yesterday's stage looked perfect for a decent-sized breakaway to go clear and stay away to the finish. My plan was to be in that breakaway with 10 or 15 guys, but hopefully nobody too dangerous to the overall contenders.
Although I was up at the usual time yesterday morning, I didn't have much of a breakfast as we only had a flat 173km stage ahead of us.
Yesterday's rest day started off a bit earlier than anticipated with a UCI anti-doping officer knocking on my door.
What a fabulous spectacle the Giro d'Italia was and didn't Northern Ireland look in the pink? I joined 30 blind and partially sighted people, along with their sighted guides, to cycle from Lisburn to the Waterfront Hall to join the Giro celebrations.
After seven hours in the saddle on Thursday I was pretty tired and tried to go to bed early, but even though I switched the lights off at about 10.30pm I couldn't get to sleep for ages.
Having set my alarm for 6.45am yesterday morning, I woke up a bit earlier than expected when the fire alarm went off in the hotel at 6.20am. There's nothing like all of the lights coming on and the sound of alarm bells to make you sit up in bed and take notice.
Australian Michael Matthews extended his Giro d'Italia lead by winning stage six to the top of the historic Montecassino climb near Naples.
A gruelling day-long break by Yorkshire's Ben Swift saw the Sky rider come close to the lead of the Giro d'Italia yesterday.
Yesterday's stage saw the first uphill finish of this Giro awaiting us in Viggiano after 203km. With the final 8km-long third-category ascent also due to be tackled with 13km to go, everyone expected a bit of a shake-up in the overall standings after the stage.
They came, they saw, they got soaked to the skin and then they went home again. Yes, the Giro d'Italia has been and gone, three days that we'll never forget with more pink knocking about than in an unseemly brawl between Mr Blobby and Bagpuss. So as we say arrivederci, here's a look back at three days of lashing rain live on the telly. Oh, and a wee bit of cycling too.
THE man who dominated the Giro d'Italia during its visit to Ireland is no longer in the race.
German rider Marcel Kittel - who won both the Belfast and Dublin stages of the Giro d'Italia - has pulled out of the race series due to illness.
A young Irish cycling fan has apologised to Marcel Kittel for taking a selfie with him after he had collapsed to the ground following his Giro d'Italia stage win.
Italian rider Giampaolo Caruso has a team of Belfast medics to thank for his continued involvement in the Giro d'Italia.
After Sunday's third stage into Dublin, my Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates and I made our way out of the city on the team bus to Bewley's Airport Hotel, where we spent our last night in Ireland before flying out to Italy yesterday morning.
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.
Like the other two Grand Tours of France and Spain, the Giro is three weeks long and with some very hard mountain stages coming in the final week, everything was about staying safe and conserving energy for those really difficult days.
The Giro d'Italia wrapped up a memorable three days in Ireland yesterday, voyaging from historic Armagh to bustling Dublin where Marcel Kittel again sprinted to stage victory in a storming finale.
The Giro d'Italia has come and gone. We may have enjoyed its company for only a short time but it was a holiday romance that will live long in the memory... for everyone.
Marcel Kittel followed yesterday’s Giro d'Italia stage victory to claim the sprint finish in Dublin city centre today.
They're the toughest guys of one of the world's toughest sports.
The cathedral city of Armagh said 'arrividerci Giro' as it sent the world's toughest cycle race on its final leg through Northern Ireland.
They tuned in from across the world with the intention of watching cycling's elite in action.
The massive success of the Giro d'Italia may attract the world's most prestigious cycling race to Northern Ireland, it was suggested yesterday.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined highways and byways south of the border to bid arrivederci to the Giro D'Italia.
Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has said he hopes the Giro d'Italia will leave Northern Ireland with a cycling legacy.
Northern Ireland has waved a fond farewell to the Giro d'Italia - an event that seems to have turned the entire region pink - as the world's top cyclists headed south to Dublin.
They came in droves to Belfast yesterday to see the opening stages of one of the greatest sporting spectacles on Earth.
What a start to the 2014 Giro d'Italia. On opening night on the packed streets of Belfast this was the first stage that had everything... joy and pain, celebration and despair, excitement and emotion.
The ancient Cathedral City of Armagh will host the final stage of the Grande Partenza – Big Start – as Northern Ireland prepares to say 'arrivederci' to the Giro d'Italia cyclists.
Ahead of last night's opening team time trial the roads were closed to traffic for two hours so that the teams could get a chance to check out the course.
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