The Stages: Giro d’Italia

Cycling between Ballintoy, Whitepark Bay and the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim
Cycling between Ballintoy, Whitepark Bay and the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim

In advance of the riders’ arrival, Giro d’Italia teams will land on the island of Ireland a whole three days before the race start. That leaves plenty of time for a host of special events

Belfast, where the race will begin, knows how to throw a party. Just ask anyone who attended the World Fire and Police Games, the MTV Music awards or a single gig in this music city. If they don’t convince you, listen to the musician and BBC TV presenter Jools Holland who claimed:

“If you can’t have a good time in Belfast, you can’t have a good time”.

Of course, the teams won’t just be in Belfast for a party. After the fun and festivities, it’s down to business and one of the greatest cycle races in the world.

The Stages

Three stages of the Giro will take place on the island of Ireland. The first and second stages will start and finish in Belfast, Northern Ireland, while the third stage will start in Armagh city and finish in Dublin taking in all the wonderful sights in between.

Please click on map for larger pdf version (3.3MB)

Stage 1 Belfast – Belfast 

Friday 9 May

Start - Titanic Quarter

Finish - Belfast City Hall

The Grande Partenza is a great opportunity to explore the host city – and Belfast has plenty to show off. During the Grande Partenza in Belfast in 2014, the cyclists’ route will take in many of the city’s iconic landmarks. The race will start at the Titanic Quarter with the time trials taking place all the way to Donegall Square North, some 21.7km later.

Belfast’s famous yellow cranes of Harland and Wolff and Titanic Belfast will prove a dramatic background setting, before the cyclists swing east towards Stormont (Northern Ireland’s Parliament Buildings).

Then it’s back towards the city’s watery artery, the River Lagan, swinging by the red-bricked beauty of Queen’s University where the late poet laureate, Seamus Heaney both studied and lectured, with the stage culminating in a furious race to the finish line along Great Victoria Street into Donegall Square North.

Please click on map for larger pdf version (2.5MB)

Stage 2 Belfast – Causeway Coastal Route – Belfast

Saturday 10 May

Start - Titanic Quarter

Finish - Belfast City Hall

Like the Danish edition in 2012, the second stage will be hosted in the same city as the first. This day will see the whole peloton riding together through the Northern Ireland countryside. Beginning and ending in Belfast, the cyclists will loop west through County Antrim and up towards the picturesque coastal town of Portrush.

From here, it’s onto The Causeway Coastal Route, frequently named as one of the best touring routes in the world. The small town of Bushmills, home of Northern Ireland’s oldest distillery, beckons them to continue back eastwards, where the route swerves along this famous and mythical stretch of coastline.

On the final approach to the finish line, the peloton will speed past historic Carrickfergus Castle along Belfast Lough. This stage will likely end in a bunch sprint provided no breaks are allowed to stay apart.

Please click on map for larger pdf version (5.9MB)

Stage 3 Armagh to Dublin

Sunday 11 May

Start - The Mall

Finish - Dublin City Centre

Stage three will begin in the heart of Armagh city centre, watched over by the two St Patrick’s cathedrals, before heading out into the hills of the Orchard County and southbound with a stretch through the rugged Fews Forest. The ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, Armagh city is also home to a first edition manuscript of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, coincidentally, a former dean of Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Castlebellingham marks the point just past halfway, and brings on a relatively flat approach to Dublin via Drogheda, Balbriggan and the seaside suburb of Clontarf. As the race flies through Drogheda, County Louth, don’t forget this is close to the Boyne Valley where the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne (host to the passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth) calls home.

With a massive crowd expected in the city centre, all the thrills of a bunch sprint will be hotly anticipated. Hopefully the cyclists will get a glimpse of some of the city’s greatest buildings – Trinity College, Custom House and Christ Church cathedral – on their way. And following that, the cyclists will have a well earned rest.

The riders and the race entourage will travel back to Italy the following day, which will be designated as a “travel day” for the event. The racing will resume on Tuesday 13 May.

Let’s hope Ireland’s hills, valleys and winding coastline doesn’t tire them out too much before then!