Tourism chiefs in Northern Ireland have revealed plans for an annual two-week cycling festival that they hope will build on the success of the Big Start of this year’s Giro d’Italia.
The Italian race began with a team time trial in Belfast, followed by a road stage starting and finishing in the city via the County Antrim Coast and another that began in Armagh and headed across the border towards Dublin.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the planned festival, which has the backing of the Stormont government, is aimed at growing the £100 million that active tourism, including cycling, brings to the province’s economy.
The newspaper says the festival, with a date yet to be set, will aim to bring new events to Northern Ireland to sit alongside existing ones as well as encouraging cyclists from elsewhere to choose the province as a holiday destination.
Susie McCullough of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) said: "Our aspiration, working with key partners, is to develop a two-week cycling festival for Northern Ireland.
"From conversations that we have had with the Department for Regional Development and other key stakeholders, we know that they are keen to look at that."
She went on:"Certainly, the infrastructure for downhill cycling is there. The tracks in Rostrevor are some of the best in the world, and we need to check whether we have the infrastructure for visitors and the entourage that comes with an event.”
The NITB is looking to stage the event in partnership with the organisation, Outside Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI).
The latter’s executive director, Carolynne Ferris, commented: "A two-week cycling festival would provide an excellent hook for the growing cycling product in Northern Ireland.
"The annual Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive in Ballycastle has already proved that cycling events can be a key economic driver."
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.