Published Thursday, 24 April 2014
A three-day leg of the The Giro d'italia will be staged in NI. (© Getty)
The Giro 'Big Start' or 'Grande Partenza' takes place in Northern Ireland from 9 to 11 May and is preceded by the traditional presentation of the teams to the host city.
On Thursday 8 May, nine riders from each of the 22 competing teams will be presented to the public in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.
Tickets for the event were made available for free on Thursday at 9am - limited to two per person - they were all allocated shortly after 2pm.
But for those trying to obtain the 4,000 tickets online, the process proved frustrating.
Twitter users complained that the site froze when they were using it and they had to re-join the queue, while others tried more than one computer without success.
At the Visit Belfast centre, around 1,500 passes were available and many people chose to queue for theirs in person from as early as 4.45am.
Responding to the complaints, Mary Jo McCanny, Visit Belfast's Director of Visitor Servicing, said public demand had been "huge" and acknowledged "frustrating delays" for some.
While Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, Gerry Lennon, admitted the system had been "slower than anticipated".
"There are going to be 5,000 - 6,000 very happy people with the golden tickets in their hands and will experience the opening ceremony on 8 May - we're delighted about that," he added.
"Unfortunately there are more people wanting to go to the ceremony than we have tickets for and it's as simple as that.
"But you will be able to see the finest cyclists in the world, cycling around our city on the Friday and Saturday and that is something that is so positive for Belfast."
At the opening event, fans can expect to see some of the biggest names in the sport with teams from at least 12 countries including Australia, Belgium, Columbia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and the USA.
This will be followed by a programme of entertainment featuring a performance by one of the 'Irish Tenors' Finbar Wright and stunt riders from the RampRage Extreme Sports Crew.
For those who did not manage to get a ticket, they can still catch the riders along the three-day race.
On Friday, the race will be in Belfast, starting at the Titanic Quarter and ending at City Hall.
On Saturday starting in Belfast, the race will cover Antrim Ballymena, Bushmills, taking in the Causeway Coastal Route from Cushendall to Larne onto Whitehead and Carrickfergus before returning to Belfast.
On the final day in Northern Ireland, cyclists will travel from The Mall in Armagh to Dublin city centre.
There will also be festival events taking part in the city to coincide with the race.
© UTV News