Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Giro d'Italia: Belfast hosts opening ceremony of greatest cycling race on earth

Full coverage of the Giro 'Big Start' in Belfast

By John Mulgrew

Published 08/05/2014

Day one of the Giro in Belfast
Day one of the Giro in Belfast
Day one of the Giro in Belfast
Day one of the Giro in Belfast
Pacemaker Press 9/4/2014 The Giro d'Italia team time trial takes place this afternoon on the Newtonards Road in Belfast , Passing its Iconic Murals Picture Colm/Pacemaker.
Day one of the Giro in Belfast
Northern Ireland- 9th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro dÄôItalia day one. Many months of preparation come to fruition this evening in Belfast, when the 97th Giro d'Italia starting with the 21.7 km team time trial stage around the city streets. Starting at the Titanic building the time trail took in Stormont, the Ormeau Road and Stranmillis finishing at the City Hall.
Northern Ireland- 9th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro dÄôItalia day one. Many months of preparation come to fruition this evening in Belfast, when the 97th Giro d'Italia starting with the 21.7 km team time trial stage around the city streets. Starting at the Titanic building the time trail took in Stormont, the Ormeau Road and Stranmillis finishing at the City Hall.
Northern Ireland- 9th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Giro dÕItalia day one. Many months of preparation come to fruition this evening in Belfast, when the 97th Giro d'Italia starting with the 21.7 km team time trial stage around the city streets. Starting at the Titanic building the time trail took in Stormont, the Ormeau Road and Stranmillis finishing at the City Hall.
Northern Ireland- 9th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Giro dÕItalia day one. Many months of preparation come to fruition this evening in Belfast, when the 97th Giro d'Italia starting with the 21.7 km team time trial stage around the city streets. Starting at the Titanic building the time trail took in Stormont, the Ormeau Road and Stranmillis finishing at the City Hall.
Northern Ireland- 9th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro dÄôItalia day one. Many months of preparation come to fruition this evening in Belfast, when the 97th Giro d'Italia starting with the 21.7 km team time trial stage around the city streets. Starting at the Titanic building the time trail took in Stormont, the Ormeau Road and Stranmillis finishing at the City Hall.
Northern Ireland- 9th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro dÄôItalia day one. Many months of preparation come to fruition this evening in Belfast, when the 97th Giro d'Italia starting with the 21.7 km team time trial stage around the city streets. Starting at the Titanic building the time trail took in Stormont, the Ormeau Road and Stranmillis finishing at the City Hall.
Northern Ireland- 9th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro dÄôItalia day one. Many months of preparation come to fruition this evening in Belfast, when the 97th Giro d'Italia starting with the 21.7 km team time trial stage around the city streets. Starting at the Titanic building the time trail took in Stormont, the Ormeau Road and Stranmillis finishing at the City Hall.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 9th May 2014 Day 1 of the 2014 Giro d'Italia Belfast - Belfast Team Time Trial over 21.7KM, starting at Titanic Quarter and Finishing at the Belfast City Hall. Stephen Roach ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
A young fan at the start of the Giro d'Italia in Belfast. Pic Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 09-05-2014: The world's second-largest bike race, the Giro d'Italia, has begun in Belfast. Northern Ireland is hosting the initial stages of the competition over the next few days, which will see about 200 cyclists race through the streets. Stage one of the competition is a team time trial from Titanic Quarter to Stormont and on to Belfast City Hall. A total of 22 teams are competing for the prestigious title. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 9th May 2014 Day 1 of the 2014 Giro d'Italia Belfast - Belfast Team Time Trial over 21.7KM, starting at Titanic Quarter and Finishing at the Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
09th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orica GreenEdge team pictured at the start of the 97th Giro dÕItalia at Titanic Belfast which begun this evening with a 21.7 km team time trial around the city streets.
09th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Europcar team pictured at the start of the 97th Giro dÕItalia at Titanic Belfast which begun this evening with a 21.7 km team time trial around the city streets.
09th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Europcar team pictured at the start of the 97th Giro dÕItalia at Titanic Belfast which begun this evening with a 21.7 km team time trial around the city streets.
9/5/2014 Pacemaker press. Team Movistar in action as the Giro d'Italia team time trial takes place this evening in Stormont grounds, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
09th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye FDJ team pictured at the start of the 97th Giro dÕItalia at Titanic Belfast which begun this evening with a 21.7 km team time trial around the city streets.
Day one of the 2014 Giro d'Italia Belfast. A man wears an Ian Paisley mask as the Newtownards Road goes pink for the Giro
Pacemaker Press 9/4/2014 The Giro d'Italia team time trial takes place this afternoon at Stormont Estate in Belfast Picture Colm/Pacemaker.
Day one of the 2014 Giro d'Italia Belfast. Taylor Mateer, who died his hair pink, before attending Victoria Primary School
Day one of the 2014 Giro d'Italia Belfast. Newtownards Road goes pink
Day one of the 2014 Giro d'Italia Belfast. Newtownards Road goes pink
Day one of the 2014 Giro d'Italia Belfast. Newtownards Road goes pink
09th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Fans pictured at the start of the 97th Giro dÕItalia at Titanic Belfast which begun this evening with a 21.7 km team time trial around the city streets.
Northern Ireland- 7th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro d'Italia launches in the grounds of Belfast city hall.
Pacemaker Press 9/4/2014 Team Columbia in action during The Giro d'Italia team time trial takes place this afternoon at Stormont Estate in Belfast Picture Colm/Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. Marcel Kittel ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Giant Shimano team members take 'selfless' in front of the huge crowd at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Giro trophy at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
8/5/2014 Pacemaker press. Local and team Sky rider Phillip Deignan is welcomed at the opening ceremony at Belfast City Hall for this years Giro d'Italia. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Tinkoff-Saxo: Nicolas Roche (Irl)
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Tinkoff-Saxo: Nicolas Roche (Irl)
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Tinkoff-Saxo: Nicolas Roche (Irl)
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
8/5/2014 Pacemaker press. The opening ceremony at Belfast City Hall for this years Giro d'Italia. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Team Sky - Philip Deignan (Irl)
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Astana Pro Team
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. BMC Racing Team - Cadel Evans
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dItalia Big Start opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to Meet the Riders ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. BMC Racing Team - Cadel Evans
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. BMC Racing Team - Cadel Evans
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at Belfast City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Tinkoff-Saxo: Nicolas Roche (Irl)
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Fans pictured at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Giant Shimano team members take 'selfless' in front of the huge crowd at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Fans pictured at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Giro teams are introduced to the huge crowd at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Giro teams are introduced to the huge crowd at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
08th May 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Fans pictured at the Giro d'Italia Opening Ceremony 'Meet the Riders' at the Belfast City Hall.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
8/5/2014 Pacemaker press. The opening ceremony at Belfast City Hall for this years Giro d'Italia. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
8/5/2014 Pacemaker press. The opening ceremony at Belfast City Hall for this years Giro d'Italia. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Northern Ireland- 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Cycle fans greet the teams as they are introduced on stage.
Northern Ireland- 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Cycle fans greet the teams as they are introduced on stage.
Northern Ireland- 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Cycle fans greet the teams as they are introduced on stage.
Northern Ireland- 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Cycle fans greet the teams as they are introduced on stage.
Northern Ireland- 8th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Giro dÕItalia ÔBig StartÕ opening event at City Hall, where spectators got to ÔMeet the RidersÕ ahead of the three day cycling event which starts in Belfast tomorrow. Cycle fans greet the teams as they are introduced on stage.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Northern Ireland- 7th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro d'Italia launches in the grounds of Belfast city hall.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Northern Ireland- 7th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro d'Italia launches in the grounds of Belfast city hall.
Northern Ireland- 7th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro d'Italia launches in the grounds of Belfast city hall.
Northern Ireland- 7th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro d'Italia launches in the grounds of Belfast city hall.
Northern Ireland- 7th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Giro d'Italia launches in the grounds of Belfast city hall.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland 8th May 2014 2014 Giro d'Italia Opening Event at The Belfast City Hall. ©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Thousands of eager cycling fans have donned their best pink garb and braved the rain as Belfast welcomed the Giro d'Italia to Northern Ireland.

>>Scroll down for full video report<<

The world's greatest cycling race landed in the city on Thursday night, with the official 'Big Start' launch drawing a sold out crowd to welcome the teams taking part in this year's race.

Cycling fans dealt with a mixture of downpours and spells of sunshine as the 22 teams were led out - alongside the Giro's golden trophy.

Almost 6,000 people packed into the grounds of City Hall, with hundreds more gathered outside.

Teams from across Europe, the US and beyond were led on to the stage, with the pomp and ceremony usually reserved for a stadium concert.

And one of Northern Ireland's very own home grown hopefuls, Nicolas Roche, said he was  left "speechless" by the response.

Roche said he had expected there would be an 'electric atmosphere' when the world's greatest cycling race came to his home country, but even he was overwhelmed by the crowd response in Belfast on Thursday.

"I am speechless. I was expecting a warm welcome, but this is just way beyond what I thought," he said.

His father, Stephen, was the first Irishman to win the Giro in 1987.

In the same year, he also took the the Tour de France and the World Championship - winning the triple crown.

Sharing the stage with Roche and the other competitors - the glittering golden prize.

A column of spirals in the shape of a tornado with the names of every winner etched on it.

Fellow Irishman, Philip Deignan, of Team Sky - which arguably received some of the loudest applause - said "I  never thought I would see the day when I would be able to start the race in my own country so it is amazing".

Thursday's launch is the beginning of what will be one of the biggest events Northern Ireland has ever hosted.

Over the next few days, more than 140,000 visitors are expected to descend  - with 42,000 of those coming from outside the country.

This is the 11th year the Big Start will be outside of Italy.

Friday kicks off three days of racing action across Belfast, the Causeway Coast, Glens of Antrim, Armagh and finishing in Dublin.

The four jerseys up for grabs, pink for the leader, red for the competitor with best points classification, blue for the top climber and white for the most promising young rider, were paraded by models catwalk style.

BACKGROUND

97th staging of the event

During its three days in Ireland, cyclists will travel 426.7km.

Over the three weeks, they will cycle almost 3,450km.

A potential audience of 775 million people is expected across 174 countries.

Expected to generate £2.5m for the economy, with some £10m-worth of international media coverage.

Giro d'Italia route: from Belfast to Trieste

Giro d'Italia route profile: stages 1-10

Giro d'Italia route profile: stages 11-20

Giro d'Italia route map: stages 1-8

Giro d'Italia route map: stages 9-16

Giro d'Italia route map: stages 17-21

Giro d'Italia team colours

Interactive Graphic: Giro d'Italia route

Giro d'Italia: Belfast buzz will live long in memory of riders, says Martin

Giro d'Italia: Ulster showing others how to do it, says race chief

Nicolas Roche keeps it in the family  

From the web

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