NI wins bid to host Giro d'Italia race

NI wins bid to host Giro d'Italia race

One of the world's most prestigious cycling races, the Giro d'Italia, is to be held in Northern Ireland.

Confirmation from Tourism Minister Arlene Foster comes just days after UTV reported that the bid was thought to have been successful.

The Grande Partenza, or 'Big Start', will take place over three days from 10-12 May 2014 and will involve routes in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin.

"Plans are already in motion to make the occasion a fabulous celebration worthy of Italian cycling traditions and the maglia rosa (the pink jersey) itself," Ms Foster said.

"Northern Ireland now has several years' experience of organising world-class sporting and cultural events. By hosting the Giro d'Italia, we will further strengthen the competitive position of our tourism industry and contribute to the economy in both the short and long terms."

We are determined to make the start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia one of the most memorable in its long history.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster

The success of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board bid, made in association with Belfast City Council and promoters Shadetree Sports, was announced at Titanic Belfast on Thursday.

Among those attending were the head of the Giro d'Italia and managing director of Italian race organiser RCS Sport Michele Acquarone, Lord Mayor of Belfast Gavin Robinson, and legendary Irish cyclist and former Giro winner Stephen Roche.

"The Giro d'Italia is one of the world's foremost cycling spectacles, an iconic Grand Tour of huge significance to cycling fans and indeed all sports fans around the globe," Ms Foster said.

The race start is normally hosted by Italy, but in recent times, the Grande Partenza of the 104-year-old race has been awarded to an outside country every two years.

It last went to Denmark in 2012.

The event, which will see over 200 top professional cyclists from the world compete, is expected to cost Northern Ireland in the region of £4.2m - with £3m sought from DETI and the EU.

The First and deputy First Ministers said the Giro d'Italia will be a boost to cycling and tourism in Northern Ireland.

"This event offers us a window to the world where millions of TV viewers will able to enjoy the world class cycling and also enjoy the backdrop of our beautiful landscapes and scenery.

"This event presents another opportunity to let the world know we are open and ready for business," they commented.

Belfast City Council has confirmed support of £400,000, while Fáilte Ireland will fund the Dublin part of the event.

The arrival of the world's greatest cyclists will further enhance our burgeoning reputation as a happening city, but more importantly it will also provide us with significant economic returns.

Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson

The Giro d'Italia is expected to attract around £10m worth of international media coverage.

"It provides us with an exceptional opportunity to demonstrate once again that the people and places of Northern Ireland have the ability to deliver," Ms Foster added.

"Going forward, there is huge potential for investment and tourism - and we want people to know that Northern Ireland is fully open for business as a primary destination for sports, music, entertainment and cultural events."

After the opening three stages, the cyclists will fly from Dublin to continue the race in Italy.

Speaking at the announcement the head of Giro d'Italia, Michele Acquarone, said: "Belfast will provide spectacular backdrops for the 2014 Grand Partenza and will add something very special into the history of this great cycling event."

Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson added: "I have no doubt the unforgettable excitement and unprecedented hype that surrounded the MTV awards will at least be matched when one of the world's most iconic and famous sporting events - the Giro d'Italia - begins in Belfast.

"Giro d'Italia will stay in our memories long after it has been and gone, but by the same token, I know that Belfast will make an indelibly positive impression on the minds of all the competitors, teams, fans and our citizens for what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Negotiations for the hosting of the Grande Partenza started in March 2012.


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