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Northern Ireland / 14 June 2016

Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland

Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland: Over 4,000 cyclists saddle up to turn NI Pink again!
The second edition of Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland took place June 5th and it has been hailed as a huge success.

PicolloFondo3

The second edition of Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland took place June 5th and it has been hailed as a huge success.

Titanic Belfast & Titanic Exhibition Centre venues were the main hub over the weekend which saw 4,000 cyclists and their friends and families descend on Belfast and take to the roads of Northern Ireland. Mike Johnston, of technical partner Clément Tyres, who traveled in from Annecy, France, said “our experience here in Northern Ireland in partnering with the Gran Fondo was incredibly positive. Providing technical assistance to riders during an event like this, offers us the opportunity to assist cyclists in their time of need. The scenery and the people made it an exceptional event for us.”

As part of the NI Festival of Cycling, Sustran’s NI organised a “Picolo Fondo” and other kids cycling activities with hundreds of children arriving on their bikes through the Gran Fondo finish line and the Street Velodrome was very popular with people of all ages. The sun was shining and the Italian feel good factor was high as riders sampled the Fantini Wine and Menabrea beer with pasta and Moy Park chicken served with Mash Direct potatoes and vegetables which satisfied the riders after a long hard ride.

Riders traveled from countries around the world including Australia, USA, Canada, Italy, Sweden, France, Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Spain, England, Scotland, Wales and Republic of Ireland. A truly international event has arrived in Northern Ireland and the appetite is clearly there for more cycling events.

The actual Giro d’Italia trophy, the “Trofeo Senza Fine” was on site all weekend, where long queues formed as riders and families wanted to get their picture taken with this iconic trophy.

Serious business started early on Sunday morning with the 175km Mourne Route starting at 07:45 and the 58km Strangford Route starting at 08:15. The sight of over 4,000 cyclists lined up in various grids on the Titanic Slipways was incredible. The mood was one of great expectation and what was to follow delivered in spades.

Normally Gran Fondo or sportives as they are known, do not draw many spectators. The official Giro d’Italia nature of this event and the fully closed roads make it unique in Britain and Ireland. The cyclists were greeted with big crowds, pink balloons, decorated roundabouts and banners all along the route. The spirit of the Giro d’Italia was alive and kicking across both routes.

With Belfast man Mark Kane winning the 175km Gran Fondo event for the second year running, there followed many hours of cyclists of different levels arriving, all with epic tales of their experiences cycling through spectacular scenery, up challenging climbs and through welcoming communities.

Global stars Gianni Bugno and Stephen Roche, who both rode the event, were on hand to present the prizes at the Gran Fondo podium to the various category winners. It was fitting that Titanic Quarter Cycling Club, set up in 2014 as a direct legacy of the Giro d’Italia Big Start, should win the Team Giro first prize on the Strangford Route. Dave Kane Cycles won the Team Giro for the Mourne Route.

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