2014 Giro d'Italia to start in Belfast, reports L'Equipe
Race will start in Belfast before crossing the border and heading to Dublin, says French sports daily
Belfast will reportedly stage the start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia, according to French newspaper L'Equipe. If true, it means that two of next year's Grand Tours will start in the United Kingdom, with the Tour de France Grand Depart taking place in Yorkshire, although in fact plans for the Giro have a very Irish flavour, including visiting the Republic of Ireland.
According to L'Equipe, the Giro will begin in the Northern Irish capital before crossing the border and heading to Dublin, which itself hosted the start of the ill-fated 1998 Tour de France, which became overshadowed by the Festina Affair.
The Giro d'Italia first started 'abroad' in 1965 when it visited the landlocked Republic of San Marino, which borders two Italian regions, Emilia-Romagna and the Marche. Most recently, it began in Denmark last year, while May's race starts on Italian soil in Naples.
Plans for an Irish Grande Partenza were first revealed at the end of October last year, with the cross-border bid to host the Giro jointly submitted to organisers RCS Sport by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and its counterpart in the Republic, Failte Ireland, and it reportedly has the backing of the governments of both countries.
The bid was said to be handled by Dublin-based company Shade Tree Sports, which was co-founded and is managed by Darach McQuaid, brother of UCI president Pat McQuaid.