Sport Cycling

Saturday 20 September 2014

Dublin tickled pink as Giro rolls into town

World watches as 50,000 to line streets for race

NICOLA ANDERSON and EMMA JANE HADE

Published 10/05/2014 | 02:30

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Nicolas Roche, Tinkoff Saxo, leads his team in the Team Time Trial event at Titanic Quarter during stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia 2014, Belfast, Co. Antrim yesterday. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Nicolas Roche, Tinkoff Saxo, leads his team in the Team Time Trial event at Titanic Quarter during stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia 2014, Belfast, Co. Antrim yesterday. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Daniel Martin of Garmin-Sharp team appears to suffer a broken collar bone when 4 riders hit the deck after a touch of wheels avoiding a manhole cover during the 1st stage a 21.7 km team time trial held in Belfast to the start of 2014 Giro d'Italia. Picture: Peter Ericsson
Ireland's Daniel Martin of Garmin-Sharp team appears to suffer a broken collar bone when 4 riders hit the deck after a touch of wheels avoiding a manhole cover during the 1st stage a 21.7 km team time trial held in Belfast to the start of 2014 Giro d'Italia. Picture: Peter Ericsson
Nicolas Roche, Tinkoff Saxo, leads his team in the Team Time Trial event at Titanic Quarter during stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia 2014, Belfast, Co. Antrim yesterday. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Nicolas Roche, Tinkoff Saxo, leads his team in the Team Time Trial event at Titanic Quarter during stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia 2014, Belfast, Co. Antrim yesterday. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

THE Giro is coming amid a whirring of aerodynamic wheels – and it's trailing a party in its wake, as the capital goes pink for the weekend.

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Almost 55,000 people are expected to line the route in the city tomorrow, as some of the world's best cyclists travel from Armagh to Dublin.

They are expected to cross the border to finish the stage in Merrion Square at approximately 4.30pm, where a Giro D'Italia fan park will be set up.

Thousands of people were out in force to cheer on the cyclists in Belfast last night as they competed for the coveted La Maglia Rosa (pink jersey).

The city's Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir – complete with pink hair, pink outfit and the gold chain of office – was at the start line.

He said: "It's a pink letter day for Belfast. When you look at what makes cities of the world great, they all have one thing in common and that is positive energy.

"You can't buy that. You can't manufacture that."

Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness both donned pink ties for the occasion. The world's second biggest cycle race will tomorrow see competitors journey 187km from Armagh city, crossing the border at Dundalk for the journey on to Dublin.

The competitors are expected to arrive at the finish line in Dublin's Merrion Street Upper tomorrow evening, after heading through Dundalk, down along the east coast through Drogheda, Balbriggan, Malahide and Clontarf.

Colombian cyclist Nairo Quintana – estimated to be the current best climber in the sport – is tipped to win the event overall, though he is expected to struggle in Ireland since the route will not suit his style.

The number of competitors is dwarfed by the number of backroom staff and media in attendance – 200 cyclists, 300 team staff and 300 domestic and international media to be precise. The race was famously won by Irish hero Stephen Roche in 1987, as he became only the fifth cyclist in history to win both the Tour de France and the Giro in the same year.

Shaun Quinn, CEO of Failte Ireland, has described the coverage, which will place Ireland in the eyes of millions of potential visitors, as "publicity that you simply cannot buy".

In honour of the Giro's distincitive leader's jersey, buildings in Dublin have all got in the pink, including Dublin Airport, City Hall, Civic Offices and Merchant's Arch in Temple Bar.

Irish Independent

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