|Alan Clarke (CEO of Northern Ireland Tourist Board), Stephen Roche, Minister Arlene Foster and Michele Acquarone.|
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."
Northern Ireland's tourism minister Arlene Foster said, "The Giro d’Italia is one of the world’s foremost cycling spectacles, an iconic Grand Tour of huge significance to cycling fans and indeed all sports fans around the globe. Plans are already in motion to make the occasion a fabulous celebration worthy of Italian cycling events and the Maglia Rosa (the race leader’s pink jersey) itself. There will be a whole range of events and activities staged before and during the races. Northern Ireland now has several years’ experience of organizing world-class sporting and cultural events. By hosting the Giro d’Italia we will further strengthen the competitive position of our tourism industry and contribute to the economy in both the short and long term."
There is a strong conection between Ireland and the Giro: Irishman Stephen Roche won the 1987 Giro d'Italia beoming the first Giro d'Italia victor from outside mainland Europe. Roche also won the Tour de France in 1987, only the fifth cyclist in history to win the Tour and the Giro in the same year.
The "Grande Partenza" in Ireland will be the Giro‘s eleventh foreign start, after San Marino (1965), Montecarlo (1966), Belgium (1973), Vatican City (1974), Greece (1996), France (1998), Ntherlands (2002), Belgium (2006), Netherlands (2010) and Denmark (2012).
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