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New RCS-backed Northern Ireland Gran Fondo to run for the next three years

Minister hopes events can pave the way for a Tour de France bid

A Gran Fondo run by RCS, the organisers of the Giro d’Italia, will take place in Northern Ireland for the next three years with the first edition scheduled for June 2015. Arlene Foster, minister of enterprise, trade and investment says that hosting such events will help pave the way for a possible bid to host the Tour de France.

"We will continue to work with other event holders and hopefully they will see us as somewhere they should come to in the future," said Foster about Tour organisers, ASO.

Gran Fondos are aimed at amateur cyclists who are looking for a recreational ride with a competitive slant. Two potential routes have been identified – one 177 kilometres and the other 59 kilometres, with both starting and finishing at Titanic Belfast. A number of cycling activities will also take place on the day before the main event across Northern Ireland. Organisers are hoping for at least 4,000 entrants in the first year, building up to 8,000 by the third year.

Foster said it was important to build on the legacy of hosting the Giro d’Italia.

"The 2014 Giro d'Italia captured the imagination of the people of Northern Ireland and was hailed as a resounding success by the organisers, who were bowled over by the warmth of our welcome and enthusiasm. Cyclists are now coming to ride the Giro stages and other routes across Northern Ireland and we want to capitalise on that interest.”

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board secured the rights for the events from RCS and its Irish partners, Shadetree Sports, at a cost of £400,000. Shadetree Sports’ director, Darach McQuaid – the younger brother of former UCI president, Pat McQuaid – told the Belfast Telegraph that the event is about promoting Northern Ireland as a cycling destination.

“We aim to make Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland one of the best in the world and one which will attract riders from all around the globe to ride on Northern Ireland’s roads and experience the warmth of the welcome here, along with the unique Giro theme.

"Being part of this growing global series will give us the ability to market Northern Ireland as a leading cycling destination and attract new visitors. There will be strong engagement with the local communities the event will pass through and our aim will be to create the “pink magic” that was done so well in May during the Big Start.”

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Farky | 9 years ago

I have some reservation about this Fondo. Mainly, what it takes away from the local scene and secondly questioning what it puts back in to the cycling scene.
From a tourism point of view, its without question, a massive victory for the region and its ongoing political/peace process, bringing with it money and the knock on opportunities that go with it.
From a sporting development side, it risks marginalising local efforts.
Though, the efforts seen in recent events like the Etape Hib, show that the locals wont necessarily just embrace it for what it is as they already see this exclusivity as marginalising and the lack of support for local clubs etc.
This is run by a more locally based partner, one not shy of controversy nor without political gain (Tour of Ireland on the cards as a stepping stone) but it remains to be seen how the cycling scene in Ireland will benefit even indirectly.

truffy | 9 years ago

Agreed. By the same logic, why not limit TdF to France, and have a separate TdE or TdUK?

Farky replied to truffy | 9 years ago
truffy wrote:

Agreed. By the same logic, why not limit TdF to France, and have a separate TdE or TdUK?

or just 'LeTour' which isnt far off anyway. ASO converted the Paris-Dakar into the Dakar brand, then buggered off to SouthAmerica with it as they couldnt be bothered with the natural political unrest in some areas traditionally used in NW Africa....only for a new Paris-Dakar to be setup with even better cooperation within those regions.

DrJDog | 9 years ago

Why not gran Fondo NI, not this giro nonsense?

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