If you find yourself in a conversation about the Giro d’Italia’s visit to our Emerald Isle this weekend, and discover your cycling knowledge to be a bit sparse, here, John Ivory gives you the basics details you need to know about this Grand Tour’s opening three stages.
- The 2014 Giro d’Italia begins in Belfast on Friday the 9th of May. Over the last few years, the Giro organisers have held the first three stages outside of Italy every second year, this year, visiting Northern Ireland, with stage 3 arriving in Dublin.
- In this, the 97th edition, the riders will be battling it out over 21 stages to claim the coveted Maglia Rosa, or Pink Jersey, starting with the Team Time Trial on Friday, beginning in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and finishing 21.7 kilometres later at City Hall.
- Saturday will see the peloton embark on a mammoth 218km trek around Antrim. They will leave Glengormley, head north to Ballymena, pass the Giant’s Causeway, then down the Antrim Coast to Larne, and towards Carrickfergus before finishing again in Belfast.
- The 187km stage three begins in Armagh and heads to the capital via Loughgall and Richill, before travelling to Markethill, Keady and Forkhill. Then the riders will cross the border into the Republic and finish on Dublin’s Upper Merrion Street.
- Stage 4 takes place on Tuesday the 13th from Giovinazzo to Bari in Italy after a rest day for transfer to Italy. The peloton will then race around Italy until Sunday June the 1st where the Giro d’Italia will end in Trieste, completing a total of 3,499.9kms.
- Ireland has three riders competing in the race. Nicolas Roche will be riding for Team Saxo-Tinkoff, Dan Martin for Garmin-Sharp and Donegal’s Phillip Deignan for the very successful Team Sky. Roche and Martin, who are cousins, could both be in the mix come the end of the tour, and if either of their respective teams manage to win the Team Time Trial, there is a good chance an Irishman could roll into Dublin in the leader’s Pink Jersey.
- Aside from the Irish contingent, the field is wide open with some big names such as 2012 Tour de France Champion, Bradley Wiggins, 2013 Tour de France Champion, Chris Froome, and last year’s Giro Winner, Vincenzo Nibali, all having decided to skip the Giro d’Italia this year in preparation for the Tour de France in July.
- However, there are still some of the biggest stars in cycling vying for the Pink jersey including, Colombian climber Nairo Quintana, who was second in last year’s Tour de France, 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, and 2012 Giro winner, Ryder Hesjedal.
It promises to be an exciting weekend of cycling ahead, with events scheduled at towns all along the routes. Go to discovernorthernireland.com to see a list of all the events planned.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.