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Land of the Green ‘Tickled Pink’ at Giro d’Italia

May 8, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The Grande Partenza or ‘big start’ of 2014 Giro d’Italia begins in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 8 May and ends in Dublin on 11 May.  In between, over 200 elite cyclists from across the globe will fight for the pink jersey in opening stages over lush green countryside, three major cities and dozens of towns and villages on the island of Ireland.

Up to 150,000 spectators are expected to follow the race along its Irish stages, the first time the prestigious Grand Tour event is being held outside continental Europe.

With its vast array of looped, linear and mountain routes and trails, cycling is very popular in Ireland and an ideal way to explore it, whether on a casual basis or competitively through the many events, tours, sportives and cycling festivals available every year.  Giro fans in Dublin, Belfast or Armagh will find it easy to slip out to the Irish countryside to experience the magnificent landscapes, key sights and quiet roads.233886_num753294_600x600

There is an abundance of world class cycling routes in Ireland.  Find out more about these routes by visiting – www.cycleireland.ie   www.cycleni.com

According to Diane Butler, Tourism Ireland Manager for Australia & New Zealand, ‘Ireland has a massive affinity with cycling and welcomes approximately 170,000 overseas visitors each year who take part in cycling based events. It is one of the most popular outdoor activities on the Island of Ireland, and the cycling network, trails, sporting events and cycling holidays are considered among the best available in Europe’

A big opening ceremony and team presentation carnival will herald in the event on Thursday 8 May at Belfast City Hall, and the next day the opening 21.7km team time trial will traverse the city from Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor centre which stands on the site the famous vessel was constructed.

On Saturday 10 May a 218km leg starts in Belfast and travels to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coastal Route, before returning to the Northern Irish capital.

On day three the riders will embark on a 187km challenging pedal. They leave the historic city of Armagh, heading south to Dublin via Dundalk, Drogheda, Balbriggan and the seaside Dublin suburbs before heading into the city centre to a finish line in Merrion Square in front of thousands of cheering fans.

Dublin will be transformed into a festival city for the weekend of the Giro with pink and cycling-themed cultural events and activities taking place to entertain the thousands of visitors.

Ireland has also a big connection to the Giro d’Italia through legendary Irish cyclist Stephen Roche, who in 1987 touched greatness to become only the second person to ever to win the triple crown of victories in the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and World Championship.  His son Nicholas will compete in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Fellow Irishman Sean Kelly, who spent four years as the world’s number one cyclist in the 1980s and who won the Milan-San Remo Classic twice, is also a legend in the sport.

Both men, who still regularly lend their names to cycling events and sportives in Ireland, have expressed their delight at the Giro coming to their home country.

Cycling fans looking to get up close to an Irish cycling great can also take the opportunity to ride alongside Sean Kelly in his native County Waterford.

The Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford (23–24 August) is one of the biggest cycling sportives in Ireland.  It offers the 12km Kelly Spin, suitable for children aged eight and upwards, a 50km Kelly Cruise, a 100km Kelly Heritage and 160km Kelly Challenge.

The event provides tests for all levels of ability and is typical of what Irish cycling is all about – the great outdoors, sporting challenge and ‘the craic’. Further media information: For more information on planning a trip to Ireland, please visit www.ireland.com

For more information on the Giro d’Italia and Sean Kelly Tour of Waterfordwww.girostart2014.com    www.theseankellytour.com For all media materials and audiovisual resources, please visit www.media.ireland.com For further information and images contact:  Aoife Finnegan 02 9964 6901 afinnegan@tourismireland.com

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