Benvenuto Giro

Published Friday, 09 May 2014
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So the Giro d'Italia is underway!

It has cost about £4.2m to stage and is expected to drum up more than £2m from visitors who come here.

The opening ceremony has taken place amidst plenty of excitement in Belfast and will take in Northern Ireland for three days before moving to Dublin.

But just what makes the Giro so special.

In a country like Northern Ireland where 'the big three' dominate sport - namely football, rugby and Gaelic Games, just what is it that makes the Giro d'Italia such an iconic name on the continent?

The race obviously centres on Italy, but for publicity and marketing purposes sometimes 'visits' other countries.

It's one part of the Grand Tours - including the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana - which are the three biggest on world road cycling's calendar.

The idea of holding the race was the brainchild of La Gazzetta dello Sport editor Tullo Morgagni in 1908 who petitioned the newspaper's owner pleading the case for an Italian tour.

Their bike race was announced on 7 August 1908 in that day's edition of La Gazzetta.

The first race started on 13 May 1909, the first race started from Milan, with Luigi Ganna, getting the honour of being the first winner.

World War I disrupted the race, but Benito Mussolini was determined this would not be the case in World War II - however the Giro as people knew it consumed too much food and fuel and in wartime this could not be justified and so it's routes were streamlined.

The 1968 Giro d'Italia saw two important firsts: the first tests for drug use and the first prologue, being an individual time trial.

The leader of the Giro will wear a pink jersey or maglia rosa; this goes back to the links with La Gazzetta dello Sport who printed their newspaper on pink.

The Giro is one of the landmarks of Italian sport and is something that will train the eyes of all Italian sports fans on Northern Ireland - let's hope we make the most of it.

© UTV News
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2 Comments
Thomas in Belfast wrote (168 days ago):
In Belfast today with my daughter to watches the Giro had a good day. But was let down to see some off the big shops arund the city centre had done nothing to add to the fun. Unlike the fountain centre who had put on kids games. But was a good day.
Mrs Moorehead in Ballyhackamore wrote (169 days ago):
I have nothing against events like the Giro but more effort needs to be taken in supporting those people who live near the route. The parking in the cul-de-sac I live in has been used as a car park with elderly people in wheelchairs or using walking frames having difficulties negotiating the cars parked on the pavements just to get home. Support is needed for yhe residents of Belfast not those that are here for a few days!
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Chris Brennan
Chris Brennan

Chris Brennan is a cross-platform sports journalist with UTV.

As well as featuring on UTV Live and contributing to u.tv, Chris can be heard regularly on U105, fronting the station's sports coverage.

Chris started his career part-time, whilst still at school, with the Down Recorder newspaper in Downpatrick and then began freelancing when at college and university.

It was at this stage that he moved into broadcasting and began freelancing for UTV in 2004.

Chris is a graduate of Queen's University Belfast, where he graduated in Modern History and Politics.

Apart from his huge appetite for all sport - but especially football - his other interests include history and travel.

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