Those queuing in person had better luck - and at least the tickets were free

As Northern Ireland turns itself pink ahead of the Big Start of the 2014 Giro d’Italia in Belfast a fortnight today, thousands of people hopeful of securing tickets online for the team presentation yesterday were disappointed due to computer issues, while many of those who decided to obtain them in person had to queue for several hours.

Unlike tickets for the Tour de France team presentation in Leeds in July, which cost between £45 and £85, leading to prices being branded as “outrageous,” those for the Giro presentation in the grounds of Belfast City Hall on Thursday 8 May were free. Within five hours or so of being made available at 9am, all had gone.

There was a limit of two tickets per person, with 4,000 available online and 1,500 at the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, where people started queuing from 4.45am. The online system froze for some people, however, meaning they lost their place in the queue.

One, Kathryn Johnston, told the Belfast Telegraph: "I joined the queue before 9am and I was online four hours with no luck.

"The system was absolutely terrible. The website just kept resetting and sending me to the back of the queue.

"I'm really disgusted by how poorly this has been organised. If they can't manage to organise a ticket system, what hope do we have for the actual event?"

Another disappointed fan was hospital porter Bill Corr who had taken a day’s leave to make sure he got a ticket. After having no luck online, he went to the Welcome Centre only to be disappointed there too.

"I am incredibly frustrated,” he said.

“I spent all morning on their website, but that was a complete waste of time. I then came down here to try and get a ticket in person only to be told they have tickets, but they are allocated for online sales only. It's pathetic.

“They knew how much interest there would be from the number of people who pre-registered and they still weren't ready."

Visit Belfast’s chief executive, Garry Lennon, said that the computer system had been “slower than expected,” adding that demand had exceeded expectations.

"There are going to be 5,000 - 6,000 very happy people with the golden tickets in their hands and will experience the opening ceremony on 8 May – we're delighted about that," he said.

"Unfortunately there are more people wanting to go to the ceremony than we have tickets for and it's as simple as that.

"But you will be able to see the finest cyclists in the world, cycling around our city on the Friday and Saturday and that is something that is so positive for Belfast."

The race begins on Friday 9 May with a team time trial in Belfast, followed by a road stage starting and ending in the city that takes the riders out onto the County Antrim coast. Sunday 11 May sees a stage from Armagh to Dublin, before the race heads back to Italy where it resumes two days later.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland has been turning pink as communities along the route vi with each other to celebrate the race, with residents and businesses encouraged to adopt the colour in honour of the race and its iconic maglia rosa.

Even a sculpture of a fisherman on the Antrim Coast Road has been subject to the treatment, as the above picture posted to our Facebook page by Alex Hawker shows.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, enthusiasm for the Giro has spread to other sports too. On Saturday 10 May, Armagh Cricket Club will play a match wearing pink kit to mark the stage start there the following day, having secured permission to change colour for the day from the Northern Cricket Union.


Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.


Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago

I sat on my computer for 2 hours and then gave up - ironically i left my computer on and when i came home i had actually got through to the purchase page but by then it was too late.
Thing is - im not going to wet the bed over it or write to the Daily Mail (or moan in the comments section of a cycling website) - it was a lottery and i didnt get a ticket.
No one died.
Of course im sure the nice people at Visit Belfast could have gone to Tandy and bought a massive new server just for the morning but its hardly breaking news that lots of people wanting a finite thing will cause a strain on resources.
Watching the racing is still free and i, for one, am very excited. More so than seeing the Tour de France to be honest.

noizebox [23 posts] 3 years ago

I got mine after a 3 hour wait. Just after, news of a separate link came out on social media which let people get tickets within 15 minutes. All very odd.

Leodis [427 posts] 3 years ago

Thats the problem with free ticketed events, the sites crash and you have chavs in queues getting as many tickets as pos to resell.

Least with Leeds I picked my seat and didnt waste my day hitting F5

giff77 [1283 posts] 3 years ago

I picked up the link via the tourist board and CRC back in March. Was done and dusted after 40 mins or so. A couple of friends were on for a few hours. Was expecting it to be sluggish anyways. Looking forward to it. I'm sure the servers were beefed up for the event and regardless of this everything is going to grind to a halt with the volume of traffic. Tried for the commonwealth games and had to give up so this is a nice wee bonus.

Gkam84 [9111 posts] 3 years ago

Well I sat there like a dumb dumb for hours on end, If I had gotten tickets, I was going to go over as my birthday present to myself....I turn 30 on the 11th. But kept getting shunted to the back of the queue, gave up. Went out and bought myself a doughnut instead.

Doaky [72 posts] 3 years ago

I was lucky too after 3 hours but my sister stayed in for 6 hours and no joy! Think I should take her with me  3

s_lim [214 posts] 3 years ago

Performance testing; that oft-neglected, always necessary evil. Surely a quick purchase to Amazon or Rackspace would've solved their capacity issues, but then again, I'm not Discover NI's IT provider.

I didn't get tickets either, but as stated previously,the racing itself is free, and in the caseof the first stage, on my doorstep. Cannot wait.

On an aside, cannot believe how NI has embraced the Giro. It's fantastic

MartyMcCann [278 posts] 3 years ago

Just a heads up-people who were successful online (thankfully I was after 4 hours) still have to show up at Welcome Belfast before this Wed at 4pm to collect the actual wristbands-any not collected by then will be reallocated so may be worth keeping an eye out to see if you can get a second chance-I called in this afternoon to get mine and there weren't too many other people about while I was there getting theirs.
On a separate note though I'm a bit annoyed that there was no priority given to clubs or Cycling Ireland members-ie those of us who support the sport all year round every year. Also annoyed that DUP councillors will be getting their tickets with no problems or hassle despite their MEP voting against measures to make lorries safer for cyclists- bit hypocritical to oppose safer infrastructure and yet show up for the Giro.

spglenn [1 post] 3 years ago

I was one of the unfortunates who actually got to the booking screen several times just after 9am but was not given a drop down to select the number of seats until after my basket timed out and reallocated my selection (not once but 10 times). I then had to head up to work and before I went in visited Visit Belfast to be told they had no tickets left there to give out and to try online, so I told them I had been trying to do just that.

I then logged on at work, but when I got to the front of the queue was not redirected to the Giro booking page. When I finally did get the booking page I must have been just after the last tickets were allocated after 4hrs 16 minutes from logging on to a second computer at 11am.