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It seems somewhat bewildering that a race titled Giro d’Italia – that’s 'Tour of Italy' to you and I – would cause such a furore in Ireland. But the eyes of the cycling world will be firmly focused on the Emerald Isle come May 9, when the prestigious event kicks off in Belfast. Much like its considerably more publicised bedfellow, the Tour de France, the Giro intermittently incorporates other countries into its epic three-week schedule, with Armagh and Dublin the other two Irish areas fortunate enough to be included in the route this time around.
With such an intense schedule, spanning two countries and 23 days all in all, deciding which stage of the race to take in is by no means easy. The opening days in Ireland, the incredible ascent across the Alps and the larger cities along the way each offer their own merits, affording you the opportunity to shape your experience as you choose.
2014 Giro d'Italia: all you need to know
2014 Giro d’Italia: event
The illustrious race has been held every year since its inception on May 13 1909 – the only exceptions being during the two World Wars in that period. Although the route itself varies, the basics principle are always the same, riders hurtling through the Alps and the Dolomites as they battle it out for the coveted pink leader’s jersey. Of the 96 tournaments thus far, a staggering 68 have been won by homegrown Italian cyclists; Vincenzo Nibali was the most recent victor, claiming bragging rights in 2013.
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2014 Giro d’Italia: schedule
An estimated global television audience of 800 million people tune into the event each year, so it is perhaps understandable that Belfast was thrilled to be awarded the grand opening this year. After three days in Ireland, the tour progresses to home soil, taking in Bari, Foligno and Modena – amongst other fine locations – before concluding in the beautiful northern port of Trieste, three weeks later, on June 1. Unusually, the competitors have been granted three days of rest this year rather than the usual two, so be wary of how you shape your plans on the 12, 19 and 26 of May.
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2014 Giro d’Italia: Dublin
As the last destination of the opening stage, and the precursor to the competition’s first rest date, it’s a good idea to spend some time in Dublin before jetting out to Italia. Aside from the usual Guinness-supping escapades, the May weather should hopefully make for a pleasing stroll around the Dubb Linh Gardens. Alternatively, why not further your sports fix with a tour of the colossal Croke Park? For some traditional Irish stew, the Porterhouse is always a safe bet.
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2014 Giro d’Italia: Dolomites
If you’re following the route of the Giro d’Italia for any length of time, you may wish to carefully time your plans around the leg that annexes the Dolomites mountain range. The Alpine terrain is a haven for skiers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts due to its diverse, dramatic and eternally breathtaking landscape. The best views can naturally be found the higher you climb, so consider the likes of the Astaldi Geologic Trail to guide you towards the peaks. Away from the usual tourist resorts like Cortina, you’ll find some charmingly quaint villages perched amongst the rocks, Sauris and Selva di Cadore being particular highlights.
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2014 Giro d’Italia: the last leg
On June 1, the Giro d’Italia reaches its dramatic climax in the town of Trieste. Such proximity to Slovenia and Croatia lends the place a distinctly Eastern European demeanour, whilst still maintaining the passion and culture you would expect of Italy. A carnival atmosphere is assured on this particular Sunday night, but stick around afterwards for a trip to the fascinating Miramare Castle, Roman Theatre and Lighthouse of Victory.
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