Posted on Thursday 20 March 2014 by Ulster Business
Counting down the days, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster is encouraging everyone to get involved, as the anticipation grows both locally and internationally. Pictured L-R are former Giro d'Italia winner Stephen Roche, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and local cyclist Massimo Manganaro.
With only 50 days to go, the excitement is continuing to build as Northern Ireland prepares to welcome the Grande Partenza or 'Big Start' of the Giro d'Italia.
Counting down the days, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster is encouraging everyone to get involved, as the anticipation grows both locally and internationally.
Arlene Foster said: "The clock is now ticking as we prepare to host one of the world's greatest sporting events. We have fantastic plans in place to welcome over 200 top professional cyclists from across the globe and it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many local people to witness sporting stars in competition on their doorsteps.
"The Giro d'Italia is not just a sporting competition that is restricted to cyclists passing in a matter of minutes, but instead it is a true spectacle, as the drama begins each day before the peloton arrives. Proceeding each day's racing the multi-coloured Giro d'Italia caravan procession will travel along the route and the festivities in towns and villages will last all day."
The official Opening Ceremony, or the Team Presentation, will be held in the grounds of Belfast City Hall on the evening of Thursday 8 May 2014. This event is free to attend but will be ticketed access. You can express interest for tickets now by visiting www.visit-belfast.com/giro
The Minister continued: "Not only will there be three days of unmissable cycling action, but there will also be a range of events and activities before and during the races.
"On Thursday evening, 8 May, there will be an opportunity to catch a first glimpse and interact with some of the world's best cyclists at the Opening Ceremony in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Nine riders from each of the 22 teams will participate in the ceremony and there will also be a range of entertainment to celebrate the Big Start in Belfast
"There are lots of ways to get involved and over the last few weeks I've heard how local people along the route are planning to welcome the Giro d'Italia by thinking pink. From pasta to flowers, cappuccinos to fish and chips, many things are turning pink in honour of the coveted pink jersey worn by the race leader."
The Giro d'Italia takes place from 9-11 May across Belfast, the Causeway Coast, Glens of Antrim and Armagh before finishing in Dublin. The event is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.
Arlene Foster concluded: "Organising an event such as this is a huge team effort, and over the next 50 days, many people will be focussed on ensuring the Grande Partenza 2014 will be one to remember.
"The Giro d'Italia sits alongside the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana, as one of the most prestigious races in the professional road cycling world circuit. The Big Start is not only an amazing opportunity for everyone to see some of the superstars of cycling racing competitively on our local roads, but it is an opportunity to reach out and inspire people to visit Northern Ireland.
"It allows us to once again showcase our striking landscapes and stunning scenery, as the huge international audience for the Giro d'Italia means approximately 775 million people in 174 countries will view it on TV – the biggest global outreach we will have ever achieved.
"In recent years we have developed a strong reputation for staging world-class events and I have no doubt the arrival of the Giro d'Italia will further enhance this, providing long term economic benefits.