The 2014 Giro d'Italia will start in Ireland, with the grand tour beginning in Belfast before heading down towards the Irish capital of Dublin. The race will hold three stages in Ireland and represents the first time a grand tour has visited Ireland since the 1998 Tour de France.
The 2014 edition of the Giro will begin on May 10 and will involve stages taking in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin.
The exact route was not announced this morning, with organisers RCS still needing to plan logistical issues with teams. It's understood that there will not be a rest day in between the Irish stages and a return to Italy.
The official announcement was made this morning at Titanic Belfast in the presence of Arlene Foster, Tourism Minister of Northern Ireland. The project to bring the Giro d’Italia to Ireland is supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the City of Belfast, Fáilte Ireland, the City of Dublin, Mediolanum International Fund Ltd and Mediolanum International Life Ltd.
Michele Acquarone, the Director General of RCS Sport, said: "We are delighted to be taking the Grande Partenza of the 2014 Giro d’Italia to Ireland. This is an ambitious project for us for many reasons.Using sport, in particular, cycling, to unite the island, is an idea we find deeply attractive. We recognise that, to do so, logistical perfection will be required on all sides. It will be the first foreign start for any Grand Tour since the implementation of a new UCI regulation prohibiting rest days on three-week Tours until the completion of at least seven days of racing.
The 2014 Giro will mark the race's eleventh foreign start, after San Marino (1965), Montecarlo (1966), Belgium (1973), Vatican City (1974), Greece (1996), France (1998), the Netherlands (2002), Belgium (2006), the Netherlands (2010) and Denmark (2012).