Wiggins glory bid to start in Belfast
Cycling superstar Bradley Wiggins is just one of the big names who is likely to be lining up in Belfast in May next year for the start of the Giro d'Italia.
Wiggins last summer became the first British rider to win the Tour de France and followed that up with gold in the time trial at the London Olympics.
Wiggins – who has seven Olympic medals in total, including four golds – was also knighted and in December was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
He recently revealed that he intends to switch his focus from the Tour de France to the Giro d'Italia and he could be joined in Belfast by other top riders like Mark Cavendish, Chris Frome and Nicolas Roche.
While the leader in the Tour de France has the yellow jersey, the Giro d'Italia leader wears a pink jersey and Wiggins has set his sights on being 'in the pink' this year when the race starts in Naples on May 4.
Wiggins said: "The Giro d'Italia is my new challenge, my new inspiration. It's the new flame that burns inside of me.
"I love the pink jersey. For me it's iconic. I think that to win it will be harder than the Tour."
Cycling legend Sean Kelly believes the Giro d'Italia coming to Belfast and Dublin will inspire kids to take up the sport in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Kelly, considered one of the greatest road racers of all time, is delighted that the world's second biggest cycling race, behind the Tour de France, will be coming here in 2014, as revealed in Saturday's Belfast Telegraph.
Announcements were due to take place today on both sides of the border outlining that the opening stages of next year's Giro d'Italia would be held in Belfast and Dublin.
The race will bring with it huge economic benefits with many world class cyclists and their teams setting up camp here, not to mention all the tourists that will be attracted to see what is such a renowned event across the world.
In a sporting context, with heroes such as Wiggins likely to compete, possibly alongside local stars such as Newtownards rider Martyn Irvine, currently at the World Track Championships in Minsk, as Kelly says there is a real chance for youngsters to become inspired by the event.
Kelly, who runs his own cycling team these days, said: "It's a great thing to have the likes of the Giro coming to Ireland.
"It's great for cycling and for the younger generation coming up. It can only help them.
"It will inspire a lot of people. There's a lot of kids getting out and about with their fathers. Some of them might get into a club and the Giro will help with that."
Big time cycling has taken place in Ireland before back in 1998 when the first three days of the Tour de France were staged in the Republic.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Failte Ireland put together a cross border submission to host the opening stages in conjunction with the governments.