British Isles To Host Six Days Of Giro D'Italia With Start In Northern Ireland
The British Isles "will host six days of grand tour cycling next year" after it was confirmed that the 2014 Giro d’Italia will start in Northern Ireland, according to Josh Burrows of the LONDON TIMES. The opening three stages of the race "will be held on roads either side of the Irish border," traveling through Belfast, Armagh and Dublin between May 10-12. Giro d'Italia Head Michele Acquarone said, "Belfast will provide spectacular backdrops for the 2014 Grand Partenza (Big Start) and will add something very special into the history of this great cycling event" (LONDON TIMES, 2/21). The IRISH INDEPENDENT wrote the news "comes hot on the heels" of last month's announcement that the first three stages of the 2014 Tour de France will be in England, with two in Yorkshire and the third finishing in The Mall in London. More than 200 of the top professional cyclists from across the world will be in Northern Ireland to take part and "there will be a supporting programme of events and activities." The Giro is expected to attract around €12M ($15.8M) worth of int'l media coverage. Northern Ireland Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said, "Plans are already in motion to make the occasion a fabulous celebration worthy of Italian cycling traditions and the maglia rosa (pink jersey) itself" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 2/21).
BIG INVESTMENT: In Dublin, Dan Keenan wrote Northern authorities are investing some £4.2M ($6.4M) which is "expected to generate" some £10M ($15.2M) for the local economy. It is "hoped further long term benefits will follow from the exposure of the event" in Ireland to the anticipated global audience of 775 million across 165 countries. Foster added that she "anticipated some 140,000 visitors would be attracted North to the race." Foster: “This is the opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as an exciting destination, as a cycling destination and a prime location for major international sports events” (IRISH TIMES, 2/21).