The 11th Grande Partenza outside of Italy
The start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia in Belfast marks the 11th time the race has started outside of Italy.
The first, in 1965, was in San Marino, followed by Montecarlo (1966); Verviers, Belgium (1973); The Vatican (1974)' Athens, Greece, 1996; Nice, France (1998); Groningen, the Netherlands (2002); Seraing, Belgium (2006); Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2010); Herning, Denmark (2012).
Possible future starts outside of Italy include Barcelona in Spain, Vienna in Austria, Berlin in Germany, and possible even Dubai.
Show me the money
Cycling does not traditionally offer high prize money but there is a total of 1.378.000 Euro up for grabs at this year's Giro d'Italia.
Each stage win is worth 11.000 Euro and a day in the pink jersey is worth 1000 Euro. The final overall winner in Trieste on June 1 will collect at least 200.000 Euro.
Chris Juul Jensen: the fourth Irishman
Irish riders Dan Martin, Nicholas Roche and Philip Deignan have been in the headlines as the three Irish riders in this year's Giro d'Italia. However Roche has revealed there is actually another rider who was born in Ireland: Chris Juul Jensen.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider now has a Danish passport and racing licence but according to Roche, was born in Wicklow, went to school there and even raced in Ireland until he was 16. The 2014 Giro d'Italia marks Jensen's Grand Tour debut.
Androni Giocattoli riders make a late dash for Belfast
Several teams have been forced to change their squads for the Giro d'Italia due to problems obtaining visas to enter Northern Ireland. However Androni Giocattoli opted to wait in Italy for their passports and Visas to arrive and Leondino Pescatore, Yonder Godoy and Jackson Rodriguez arrived in Belfast on Thursday morning.
They are due to travel to Belfast hospital for their obligatory pre-race blood tests before training for Friday's opening team time trial.
The Giro of renewal
With Vincenzo Nibali focusing on the Tour de France and other riders embroiled in doping scandals, Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport has dubbed this year's race the 'Giro del rinnovamento –the Giro of renewal'.
The average age of the 198 riders at the Giro d'Italia has dropped by six months to 28 years and 174 days.
Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is the oldest rider in the race at 40 years and 129 days, while his age is balanced out by Sebastian Henao, who is the youngest at 20 years 280 days.
58 riders are making their Giro d'Italia debut, a significant 29% of the 198 riders in action. The Bardiani-CSF team has the lowest average age at 24 years and 218 days. Katusha is the oldest at 33 years and 145 days.
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