Giro d'Italia: Nairo Quintana and pals promise unforgettable event
The biggest sporting event ever to come to Northern Ireland will begin tonight with the man tipped to become cycling's next superstar promising the public here that the Giro d'Italia will provide them with the ride of their lives over the next three days.
Colombian Nairo Quintana is favourite to win the 2014 Giro and is relishing the prospect of starting the race in Belfast. Ready for his assault on capturing the leader's pink jersey, which will go into overdrive when the race hits the mountain stages in Italy later this month, Quintana, who finished second in his first Tour de France last year, believes by the time the Giro leaves Northern Ireland on Sunday, spectators will have been served up a treat to remember.
Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph at last night's presentation of all the teams at the City Hall, 24-year-old Quintana said: "I think the start of this year's Giro will be a great spectacle. Belfast is a beautiful city – and decorated in pink too. I see lots of happy people and I can feel a great atmosphere. We as riders want to provide everyone with something really exciting to watch and remember."
The opening ceremony certainly seemed to go down well with the crowd, which included Northern Ireland's World Track Champion Martyn Irvine and respected Irish coach Brian Nugent.
Tonight's first stage is a team time trial, getting underway at Titanic Belfast and finishing at the City Hall.