Giro d’Italia route to take in Belfast, Dublin

Shelley Marsden

THE ROUTE for next year’s Giro d’Italia, which which will run from May 9 to June 1 and include three days in Northern Ireland and Republic, has been revealed.

According to organisers the gruelling 3, 450km route contains eight summit finishes, three time trials and three rest days at a presentation ceremony in Milan, reaching its climax on Monte Zoncolan. The notorious 10.1km ascent, which returns after a year’s absence, is one of the most feared climbs in the world.

There will be three days of pre-race celebrations in Belfast, before the city hosts the first two days on May 9-10 as part of the ‘Grande Partenza’ (Big Start), with a 21.7km team time trial on stage one followed by a flat, 218km second stage starting and ending in the city, and set to include a visit to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway.

The following day competitors will travel 187km from Armagh to Dublin, before an early rest day allows cyclists to fly back to Italy and continue the race there. The winner will be crowned in Trieste at the end of a flat, final stage on June 1.

The Giro, viewed around the world by a potential audience of 800 million, has been held outside of Italy ten times – but 2014 is the first time it will include Ireland and the UK.  Two months after the event, the Tour de France will hold its Grand Depart in Yorkshire.

As well as its heavy Irish influence, the 97th edition of the Giro also pays its respects to Italian cycling heroes  Marco Pantani and Gino Bartali.

The 2014 race commemorates 100 years since Bartali’s birth, while Pantani will be remembered ten years after his death with stage finishes at Oropa (stage 14) and Plan di Montecampione (stage 15), scenes of two of his eight Giro stage wins.

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