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Thousands to hit streets as Gran Fondo returns


Sporting legend: Stephen Roche is taking part in the Belfast event

Sporting legend: Stephen Roche is taking part in the Belfast event

Sporting legend: Stephen Roche is taking part in the Belfast event

The 2016 Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia NI is set to be a major hit with almost 4,000 riders already registered to take part.

This is the second time the Gran Fondo has taken place in Northern Ireland following last year's event which was held after the massive success of the Giro d'Italia being here for its 'Big Start' in 2014.

Organisers of the Gran Fondo are determined that the cycling legacy lives on in the country and are urging people to register for this year's June 5 event before Sunday's closing date.

As well as thousands being involved from Northern Ireland there are riders travelling from countries such as Australia, Spain, Sweden, Canada, France, Germany, Malaysia, Norway and the USA for what promises to be a special occasion.

Legendary Irish rider Stephen Roche, who won the Giro d'Italia in 1987, and Gianni Bugno - the 1990 Giro winner - will take part in the Belfast event.

There will be two routes to cycle with all standards catered for.

The Mourne Route is a 175km ride and will challenge the fittest riders by providing tough climbs through breathtaking scenery including the Spelga Dam and Slieve Croob with views over Lough Neagh.

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The Strangford Route, a 58km loop, is achievable for beginner and novice cyclists covering a route around North Down with the beauty of Strangford Lough to keep them company for much of the way.

Both routes start and finish in Belfast, at the iconic Titanic Belfast building. Event registration takes place on Saturday, June 4 at Titanic Exhibition Centre.

Participants will enjoy mechanical support, fully stocked food and hydration stations on both routes, a Giro Gift Bag with unique items, a post-ride pasta party with Menbrea beer and Farnese wine and finishers' medals. The closing ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 5 at around 5.30pm with lots of family activities planned as part of the NI Festival of Cycling.

Gran Fondo organiser Darach McQuaid said: "We are absolutely delighted at the growth the event is seeing for our second edition. We aim to make this event one of the must-do sportives in the UK & Ireland and working with our key partners Tourism NI, Menabrea Beer, Newry Mourne & Down Council, Garmin and others, the rider experience will be enhanced and Northern Ireland will be promoted as a great place to cycle."

No entries will be taken after May 15 so if you wish to be involved register before then at ww.granfondogiroditaliani.com.

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