The Giro d’Italia will start in Belfast in 2014, according to a report in French newspaper L’Equipe. It would give the United Kingdom two Grand Tour starts in 2014 after Yorkshire was awarded the Tour de France Grand Depart.
According to L’Equipe, the race will start in Northern Ireland and head south to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. It would then need to continue in the north of Europe, likely going into England, as new rules require five days of racing in a Grand Tour before a rest day.
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Last year, the race started in the northern most point for a Grand Tour, Herning, Denmark. After three days, it used the rest day to transfer to Verona and continue the race.
Cycling Weekly asked Giro Director Michele Acquarone about the report. He replied with a laugh, “I don’t even know where we are starting in 2013 at this point!”
The Giro d’Italia this year starts in Naples on May 4 with a sprint stage that should suit Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Reigning Tour de France champion, Bradley Wiggins will lead team Sky.
Giro organiser, RCS Sport only announced Naples as the starting city in June last year. Acquarone explained that he first needs to concentrate on the start of the 2013 season before giving full concentration to the 2014 Giro.
RCS Sport’s first race of the season is the one-day classic, Strade Bianche in Siena on March 3.
“It’s complicated in this moment, we are navigating in the dark right now, one step at a time,” Acquarone added. “We have a lot of irons in the fire, and until the season gets going I won’t rest easy.
“Strade Bianche. Let us concentrate on that first, 2014 is still a long way off.”
The Belfast Telegraph reported in October that its city applied to host the race start. It estimated the cost to be £3.8m with an impact of £10m. Leeds’ bid is estimated around £10-16m, with an economic impact estimated to be £100m.
In an earlier interview, Acquarone said going abroad makes sense.
“It’s not that there’s more money abroad, but that there are more options,” Acquarone explained. “In Italy we are limited to the 20 regions to host the start, but abroad there’s Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Great Britain…”
He preferred to keep his cards close to his chest today, not confirming Belfast.
“Journalists always know so many [things]!” he said of the L’Equipe article. “I don’t know what to say, really.”
Giro starts “all’estero”:
1965 San Marino
1966 Monte Carlo, Monaco
1973 Verviers, Belgium
1974 Vatican City
1996 Athens, Greece
1998 Nice, France
2002 Groningen, Netherlands
2006 Seraing, Belgium
2010 Amsterdam, Netherlands
2012 Herning, Denmark