ireland

RACING
IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland

03/06/2017

Gran Fondo Giro D’Italia Northern Ireland – Mourne Route 177km

0191-940x590The Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia will see thousands of cyclists tackling some of the most historic and iconic climbs in Northern Ireland. Fully closed roads will make this event a truly once in a lifetime experience for all participants. The 173km 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 sea. Upon starting at Titanic Belfast, you will leave the city on the rolling and twisting roads of Co. Down to guide you towards to mountain roads that will greet you 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 your first climb you will begin your passage through towns and villages such as the hill top towns of Rathfriland and Hilltown as you head closer to the biggest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains. You will ride up the gradual climb of Monte Leitrim Hill with the beautiful Carlingford Lough in the backround with its high mountain slopes surrounding this exceptional sea inlet. Once over Monte Leitrim you will ride further into the Mourne Mountains were you will be 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 your entrance to this climb which will see you 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 both breath taking and spectacular with one of Northern Ireland’s largest reservoirs in sight once you hit the top of the mountain. You will stay within the Mourne Mountains as you descend alongside Tollymore Forest Park and into the village of Bryansford before starting the homeward trip and the last challenges that await you. Passing through Castlewellan with its wide main street which runs through two main squares lined with chestnut trees, the fast descent out of the town will be a nice reprieve before you begin the last climb of the day to Monte Slieve Croob. This long climb will once again take you to a peak that will pass through the ancient hills. Folklore tells that 12 kings are buried at the top of the mountain. You will be greeted at the top with views to Lough Neaghand many of Northern Ireland’s counties and towns. Your last leg 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 to greet you on your return before the finish at Titanic Belfast. GF-NI-Maps-177K-2-620x863