Like a large fuschia pink paint pot falling from the sky the Giro D’Italia has spilled its excitement over Northern Ireland recently covering our iconic buildings, landmarks and local businesses. Even our people and livestock have been infected!
Second only to the Tour de France, the Giro D’Italia is one of the world’s most famous cycling races and this year has chosen to begin its journey in Northern Ireland, bringing with it a huge opportunity to showcase our famous sights and stunning coastline to audiences from over 175 countries worldwide. The prestigious three week long race commenced this weekend and will remain here until Sunday May 11 where it will end its Irish tour in Dublin, before returning to Italian soil for the remainder of the stages and the big finish in the city of Trieste on June 1st.
It’s great to see something of this magnitude choosing Belfast as its welcoming host city and the enthusiasm of the people and local businesses has been unparalleled (heck, even the mayor has dyed his hair pink!). The city, of course has had more than its fair share of turbulence over the years but has been working hard and come confidently out the other side ready to take its place in the spotlight as one of Europe’s most vibrant and cultural hotspots.
Thursday night marked the opening of the Giro D’Italia with a presentation ceremony at City Hall, Belfast where the riders were officially welcomed by Northern Ireland and this year’s coveted Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) was unveiled. The carnival-esque atmosphere refused to be dampened by a rainy Thursday evening and was greatly appreciated by the riders who commented on the wonderful hospitality and support they had received from Northern Ireland, spurring them on for the tough race ahead.
Tickets for the event were in high demand with only 6,000 given out, but luckily I managed to score one at the last minute to enjoy the grand celebrations (and share them with you, of course!)
Stage 1 of the race took place on Friday afternoon around Belfast City, with Svein Tuft winning the primary stage. Stage 2 began from the Titanic Quarter, Belfast on Saturday morning and covered 219km of Northern Ireland’s Northern coastline, cycling through towns and villages all laden thick with pink supporters. I travelled home this weekend to visit my parents, and even our small village were out early to show support for the teams as they whizzed through!
‘Giro Fever’ really is everywhere this weekend so grab that pink umbrella and get involved in showing the world our great little country, and the great people who make it! Stage 3 of the race will take place tomorrow starting in Armagh city and heading south before its Irish finale in Dublin later in the evening. This really is a once in a lifetime event, so catch it while you can!
Best of luck to all the cyclists (especially Team Grand Shimano who I am confidently backing this year!),Until next time, ciao! K.