Scandal-hit Giro will still be given green light
Ulster's most high-profile sporting event in 2014 will not come under threat despite the suspension of Giro d'Italia director Michele Acquarone.
The Giro d'Italia – along with the Tour de France, the world's greatest cycle race – is due to start in Belfast in May and follow a route around the province over a three-day period before moving on to the continent.
But the suspension of Acquarone pending an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of $17.7million at RCS Sport – the company that organises the race – had cast a cloud over the event which will be contested here from May 9 to 11.
Acquarone – who is also the CEO of RCS Sport – and former CEO Giacomo Catano have each been given "precautionary rather than disciplinary" suspensions during the inquiry. The suspension means Acquarone will miss Monday's launch of the 2014 Giro in Italy.
Ulster professional cyclist Philip Deignan is recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in the Tour of Britain last week, but the Vuelta a Espana stage winner hopes to compete in the Giro – in which last year's Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins will be among the favourites – when it comes to Northern Ireland.
"It will be the main objective for next season," said Deignan.
"I took up cycling in 1998 after I saw the Tour de France start in Dublin. But I could never have imagined I might get the chance to ride a Grand Tour in Ireland myself," said the Letterkenny man.
"Since I first heard about it last year, it's been pretty exciting to think about it.
"Obviously I have to get selected for the Giro team first but, if I do it, I can imagine it being a really surreal experience.
"I've done three Giros now but I think it will feel strange riding through little towns and villages in Ireland, some that I would have raced in as a youngster, and realising you're in the Tour of Italy."