Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly has hailed today’s announcement of the 2014 Giro d’Italia coming to his home country next year.
The race, only second to the Tour de France in terms of prestige, will start north of the border in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter on May 10 and will also finish in the region’s City Hall area later the same day.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
Day two will also run from Belfast to Belfast, starting and finishing at those same venues while day three on Monday May 12 will begin at The Mall in Armagh and cross the border en route to a finish in Dublin’s city centre.
Exact details of the stages will be confirmed at a later date but Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly has hailed the decision of the Giro organisers to bring the race to Ireland.
“For a race like the Giro to start and have a number of stages – it is great for cycling,” he said. “I think it gives a great buzz, it creates a big interest.
“It is good thing for the younger generation of people getting into the sport as they can go to see it. That will make them very enthusiastic to go on in the sport and to try to get to that level and take part in a race like the Giro and the Tour de France,” he added.
Nicolas Roche, now riding for the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff team, and whose father Stephen won the race back in 1987 also praised the decision.
“I’m sure Ireland would put a fantastic show on for the Giro, so while it’s obviously too early to know if I would be riding, I’ll be the first one to put my hand up for it when they’re picking the team.”
It’s the second Grand Tour to confirm a visit to the British Isles after the Tour de France announced that the 2014 race will start in Yorkshire.
Alan Clarke (CEO of Northern Ireland Tourist Board), 1987 Giro winner Stephen Roche, Minister Arlene Foster and Giro director Michele Acquarone. Photo: RCS Sport