LOCAL communities on the route of next year’s Giro d’Italia cycle race are being encouraged to organise events celebrating the one-off spectacular.
The world’s top road racers will pass through Carnlough, Glenarm, Ballygally, Larne, Glynn, Magheramorne, Whitehead, Carrickfergus and Whiteabbey on Saturday, May 10 during a 218k time trial from Belfast to the North Coast and back via East Antrim.
Assemblyman Roy Beggs said he was certain that council events officers were already making plans to capitalise on the unique opportunity of hosting one of cycling’s three major tours.
The Ulster Unionist MLA, who is a keen cyclist, added: “This is another wonderful opportunity to showcase our beautiful part of the world and really develop our tourism potential. I would love to see local communities and sports clubs getting involved in 2014 by organising their own events to celebrate the Giro d’Italia coming to East Antrim and Northern Ireland.
One legacy of the Giro will be improved road infrastructure. Mr Beggs revealed: “My party colleague, the Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, has talked about the cycling revolution in Northern, and I know that he is working to ensure that the roads are in great condition for the competitors.”
DUP MLA Alastair Ross was involved the negotiations to bring the Giro to Northern Ireland in his capacity as Assembly Private Secretary in DETI. He travelled to Italy for this year’s event.
Mr Ross said, “The fantastic thing about events such as the Giro is that people from right across Northern Ireland will be able to see it for themselves, and local towns and villages along the route of the road race can come out and show their support. For example, the tour route on Day Two will begin at Templepatrick before heading for the North Coast and then following the Coast Road until it reaches East Antrim at Garron Point.
“From there, the cyclists will pass through Carnlough, Glenarm, Ballygalley, Larne, Glynn, Magheramorne, Whitehead, Carrickfergus, Greenisland and Jordanstown before leaving East Antrim and finishing at North Queen Street in Belfast.”
He added: “I am confident that the teams, supporters and international journalists who will travel to the Province for the Giro will be impressed by the scenic beauty of the route and the enthusiastic welcome from people right across Northern Ireland. This international coverage, in more than 165 countries who broadcast the race, will be a fantastic opportunity for East Antrim.”