Details of Giro d’Italia Irish stages revealed in Milan
Italian Tour will begin in Belfast on Friday, May 9th next year outside Titanic building
Vincenzo Nibali of Astana celebrates winning the 2013 Giro d’Italia in Brescia, Italy. Photograph: Scott Mitchell/teamsky.com via Getty Images
Twenty six years after Stephen Roche won the Giro d’Italia and 15 years after the Tour de France began in Dublin, details emerged yesterday of three stages of the Italian Tour to be held in Ireland next May.
The Giro, or Tour of Italy, had previously been confirmed as starting in Belfast but yesterday’s announcement of the full race route in Palazzo del Ghiaccio, Milan, fleshed out the details and made the unusual Grande Partenza official.
The race will begin in Belfast on Friday , May 9th 2014. It is the first time the race will start outside mainland Europe. It will start with a visually spectacular 21.7 kilometre team time trial, beginning outside Titanic Belfast and ending in front of City Hall on Donegall Square.
Day two takes the riders on a 218 kilometre road stage, again starting and finishing in the same locations, and looping out along the coastline and past Giant’s Causeway. It is likely to result in a sprint finish as will stage three, on Sunday, May 11th, which runs 187 kilometres from Armagh to Dublin and finishes on Upper Merrion Street.
The logistical headache of transporting equipment back to Italy has been solved by the UCI’s granting of an unusual Friday start and an extra rest day, with Monday. May 12th enabling the race vehicles to be driven through Europe by team staff. The riders will likely fly direct Sunday evening.
Roche won the Giro in 1987 and is the only Irishman to top the podium in the race. He was enthusiastic about the Irish aspect of the route .
“It’s magnificent,” he told The Irish Times. “It is absolutely amazing to see the way the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and those from Dublin are rowing in behind it.”
His son Nicolas is one of several Irish riders who hope to take part. While his Saxo Tinkoff squad will be in the event, he is relying on selection; the possible headache is that his team will want him to support Alberto Contador in the Tour de France and, possible, in the Vuelta a España.
He told The Irish Times yesterday: “I would like to be there, obviously. I expressed clearly my feeling and my demand to the team yesterday and I am just hoping that I will get a favourable response,” he said. “The answer I got yesterday was ‘Nico, we just finished 2013. Have your break and we will talk about it in November.’ So I will see then.”
He finished a career-best fifth in the Vuelta a España, also winning a stage and leading the race, and could be one of the Giro contenders if he rides. So too his first cousin Dan Martin, who is thought almost certain to take part with his Garmin-Sharp team.
Philip Deignan is vying to ride with his 2014 team, Sky, while world scratch race champion Martyn Irvine said yesterday he had extended his contract with the UnitedHealthcare team and that it is pushing hard for a wildcard invitation.
In addition to the three Irish stages, the riders will contest 18 others, finishing in Trieste on June 1st.