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Northern Ireland / 30 March 2015

Press Release: 23 February 2015

Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland announces routes and opens registration

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The major legacy event from the 2014 Giro d’Italia Big Start will today open registration and announced initial details on the two routes for the event, that will take place on 21 June 2015.

Registration details can be found at: www.granfondogiroditaliaNI.com

The Gran Fondo is supported by Tourism NI and the event organisers, Shadetree Sports, have been working to finalise route and registration details since the announcement by Minister Arlene Foster last December of a three year commitment to funding the event.

The emphasis on the event will be – authentic Giro d’Italia experience, fully closed roads, showcase Northern Ireland’s beautiful landscape to riders and international media and create a lasting legacy from the 2014 Giro Big Start.

1987 Giro d’Italia champion Stephen Roche will be an event ambassador and will ride the Gran Fondo, giving local cyclists an opportunity to ride alongside him. Further announcements on other famous cycling champions taking part are sure to create great levels of excitement in advance of June 21.

Commenting on the routes, Event Director Darach McQuaid said, “we are very excited to announce the routes for the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland. The Mourne Route, a 177km ride will challenge the fittest riders by providing tough climbs and inspire each rider by bringing them through some breathtaking scenery. We are confident this can become an iconic cycling route in the years to come. The Strangford Route, a 58km loop that is achievable for beginner and novice cyclists. We want to provide them with as much of the same experience in terms of closed roads and Giro d’Italia feeling, with a route length that should be achievable by many.”

“We will provide each participant with many benefits that will make the entry fee a very good value for the money. Among them will be – mechanical support on route, fully stocked food and hydration stations on both routes, a Giro Gift Bag with unique items, a post ride pasta party with beer and wine and finishers medals. We will be announcing more associated events and benefits in the coming weeks that we are sure will make this Gran Fondo a must do in any cyclist’s diary.”

The Mourne Route

The 177km loop will pass over mountains and hills steeped in Irish history with the opportunity to view the beauty of the country from the highest mountain peaks to the Loughs and the Irish Sea.

Upon starting at Titanic Belfast, the riders will leave the city with the rolling and twisting roads of Co. Down towards mountain roads that will greet them after 42km. First up is the steep Monte Dree Hill, which has the ancient Slieve Croob as a backdrop. This is a designated area of natural beauty with the source of the River Lagan starting as a stream from the top of this mountain and running all the way to Belfast Lough.

After the country lanes and smooth twisting roads descending off the first climb they will begin to pass through towns and villages such as the hill top towns of Rathfriland and Hilltown as they head closer to the biggest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains. Then up the gradual climb of Monte Leitrim Hill with the beautiful Carlingford Lough in the backround.

Once over Monte Leitrim they will ride further into the Mourne Mountains at the foot of the jewel of the Gran Fondo Northern Ireland, the climb of Monte Spelga Dam. The steep switch backs and the high peaks will greet their entrance to this climb which will see them hit the “roof” of the Gran Fondo with the highest elevation for the route at its peak. Views across Co. Down to Co. Armagh are spectacular with one of Northern Ireland’s largest reservoirs in sight once they hit the top of the mountain. Staying within the Mourne Mountains as they descend alongside Tollymore Forest Park and into the village of Bryansford before starting the homeward trip and the last challenge of the ride.

Passing through Castlewellan before they begin the last climb of the day to Monte Slieve Croob. The riders will be greeted at the top with views to Lough Neagh and many of Northern Ireland’s counties and towns. The last section home will pass through Dromore town and into Ballynahinch and Saintfield on rolling roads before the gradual descent into Belfast city with views of the entire city and Belfast Lough before the finish at Titanic Belfast.

The Strangford Route

The 58km route will prove challenging and enjoyable for all levels of cycling enthusiasts.

Leaving Titanic Belfast, they will ride 58km of rolling roads with two categorised climbs. The first challenge of the day will take place within the first 6km when riders will tackle Monte Braniel. A gradual climb with beautiful views of the city and across Belfast Lough once the top is reached. Completing the first real challenge of the day will set riders up for a nice ride on the rolling roads around some of Co. Down’s villages with the beauty of Strangford Lough to keep them company for much of this route. The lough is almost totally enclosed by the Ards Peninsula. The main body of the lough has at least seventy islands along with many islets, bays, coves, headlands and mudflats that riders will pass during the day.

The route will pass through the historic town of Comber before starting the climb of Monte Moneyreagh that will be the last climb of the day. This section will bring the riders through the rolling hills of North Down with the twisting and smooth road helping them enjoy the last challenge of the day. Once they have crested the final climb the homeward journey begins, which will descend into Belfast city with the view of the famous Harland and Wolff cranes in the distance along with the twinkle of the iconic Titanic Museum which signals the finish of the challenge. The descent into the city will be the perfect way to finish the ride with satisfaction and pride.

More detailed maps of both routes will be released in the coming weeks, along with exact locations of food and hydration stops.

Further details:

Shadetree Sports Press Office

Contact: Paola Pontarollo

Email:paola@shadetreesports.com

Tel: + 44 28 9082 3695

Web Site:                                       http://www.granfondogiroditaliani.com

Twitter:                                            https://twitter.com/GfgiroNi

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