The Giro d’Italia - one of the world’s greatest cycle races - is coming to Newtownabbey next summer, it has been confirmed.
Next year’s race, officially launched this week, will start on May 9 with three stages in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland before riders travel to Italy to continue the race from Giovinazzo on May 13.
On Saturday, May 10 the riders will take on a 218km route, setting off from Belfast and making their way via Templepatrick and Antrim to the north coast before returning to Belfast along the Co Antrim coast road.
The race will travel through several parts of Newtownabbey, including Glengormley, Jordanstown and Whiteabbey - something which has been welcomed by East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross.
Mr Ross, in his capacity as Assembly Private Secretary in the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment, travelled to Italy last year and was involved in the negotiations to bring the prestigious cycling event to Northern Ireland.
“The fantastic thing about events such as the Giro is that people from right across Northern Ireland will be able to see it for themselves, and local towns and villages along the route of the road race can come out and show their support.
“I am confident that the teams, supporters and international journalists who will travel to the Province for the Giro will be impressed by the scenic beauty of the route and the enthusiastic welcome from people right across Northern Ireland. This international coverage, in more than 165 countries which broadcast the race, will be a fantastic opportunity for East Antrim and for Northern Ireland,” the DUP man commented.
It’s thought that Newtownabbey Council is planning to put on a number of events and celebrations to coincide with the Giro’s visit to the borough.
“We are excited and delighted that it looks like the Giro will pass through Newtownabbey. We will be planning to celebrate along the route and anticipate that an event will take place at Jordanstown Loughshore Park. There will be a report coming to council in due course once the plans are developed and the route confirmed,” a spokesperson said.
Next year will be the eleventh time the famous race has started outside Italy, but the first time outside continental Europe.
It’s understood the Northern Ireland Executive is paying £3million to host the event.