North Antrim set to be Giro d’Italia cycle race ‘highlight’

Cycling is increasingly popular in north Antrim.
Cycling is increasingly popular in north Antrim.

THE organisers of next year’s Giro d’Italia cycle race believe the north Antrim coast will be the scenic highlight of the whole event, it has been reported.

A helicopter reconnaissance trip of the route during the good weather of the summer stunned executives who believe the local scenery will be the perfect backdrop for their race which has a global tv audience of 775 million.

With cycling a growing sport locally and across the world it is predicted that cycling tourists will be attracted to the Antrim Coast Road and beyond following the race which will go through the Ballymoney borough and on to Bushmills, and along the Antrim Coast.

The Antrim Coast Road has long been considered one of the world’s great scenic drives, but it could now be transport of the two-wheel variety rather than four-wheels being increasingly seen on local roads.

That’s one of the legacy aims from next year’s staging of the Grande Partenza (Big Start) of the Giro d’Italia with three stages in Ireland.

And with a global TV audience of 775 million, the Giro will offer the areaan enormous showcase. It’s estimated the event will generate €13m worth of international media coverage and 140,000 overnight visitors to Northern Ireland.

More than 500,000 turned out for last year’s Big Start in Denmark, according to Shadetree Sports which is helping to organise the Irish leg of the Giro.

Cycling clubs in north Antrim are bracing themselves for a surge of interest leading up to and following the big race.