Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia

Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia



The major legacy event from the 2014 Giro d’Italia Big Start will take place on June 21 and registration is now open for keen cyclists to take part in this unique experience which comprises of two routes in Northern Ireland.  


The Gran Fondo is supported by Tourism NI and the event organisers, Shadetree Sports, have been working to finalise route and registration details since the announcement by Minister Arlene Foster last December of a three year commitment to funding the event.


The emphasis on the event will be – authentic Giro d’Italia experience, fully closed roads, showcase Northern Ireland’s beautiful landscape to riders and international media and create a lasting legacy from the 2014 Giro Big Start.


Tourism NI Market Manager Fiona Cunningham said: “The 2014 Giro d’Italia Big Start was a huge success with over 140,000 visitors attending the race and its associated Festival activity and was broadcast in 171 countries across five continents. The Gran Fondo will establish a tangible legacy event to the Giro d’Italia and further increase awareness of Northern Ireland as a premium cycling and tourism destination.


It is fantastic to hear that 1987 Giro d’Italia champion Stephen Roche will be an event ambassador and will ride the Gran Fondo, giving local cyclists an opportunity to ride alongside him”.


Commenting on the routes, Event Director Darach McQuaid said, “We are very excited to announce the routes for the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland. The Mourne Route, a 177km ride will challenge the fittest riders by providing tough climbs and inspire each rider by bringing them through some breathtaking scenery. We are confident this can become an iconic cycling route in the years to come. The Strangford Route, a 58km loop is achievable for beginner and novice cyclists. We want to provide them with as much of the same experience in terms of closed roads and Giro d’Italia feeling, with a route length that should be achievable by many.”


“We will provide each participant with many benefits that will make the entry fee great value for money. Among them will be mechanical support on route, fully stocked food and hydration stations on both routes, a Giro Gift Bag with unique items, a post ride pasta party with beer and wine and finishers medals. We will be announcing more associated events and benefits in the coming weeks that we are sure will make this Gran Fondo a must do in any cyclist’s diary.”


The Mourne Route


The 177km 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 the Irish Sea.


Starting at Titanic Belfast, the riders will leave the city with the rolling and twisting roads of Co. Down towards mountain roads that will greet them 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 the first climb they will begin to pass through towns and villages such as the hill top towns of Rathfriland and Hilltown as they head closer to the biggest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains. From there they climb towards Monte Spelga Dam, passing through Castlewellan before they begin the last climb of the day to Monte Slieve Croob. The riders will be greeted at the top with views to Lough Neagh and many of Northern Ireland’s counties and towns before the gradual descent into Belfast city with views of the entire city and Belfast Lough before the finish at Titanic Belfast.                                                                      

The Strangford Route

The 58km route will prove challenging and enjoyable for all levels of cycling enthusiasts.


Leaving Titanic Belfast, they will ride 58km of rolling roads with two categorised climbs. The first challenge of the day will take place within the first 6km when riders will tackle Monte Braniel. A gradual climb with beautiful views of the city and across Belfast Lough once the top is reached. Completing the first real challenge of the day will set riders up for a nice ride on the rolling roads around some of Co. Down’s villages with the beauty of Strangford Lough to keep them company for much of this route. The lough is almost totally enclosed by the Ards Peninsula. The main body of the lough has at least seventy islands along with many islets, bays, coves, headlands and mudflats that riders will pass during the day.


The route will pass through the historic town of Comber before starting the climb of Monte Moneyreagh that will be the last climb of the day. This section will bring the riders through the rolling hills of North Down with the twisting and smooth road helping them enjoy the last challenge of the day. Once they have crested the final climb the homeward journey begins, which will descend into Belfast city with the view of the famous Harland and Wolff cranes in the distance along with the twinkle of the iconic Titanic Museum which signals the finish of the challenge. The descent into the city will be the perfect way to finish the ride with satisfaction and pride.


Registration details can be found at: www.granfondogiroditaliaNI.com


For more information on cycling in Northern Ireland and the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, click on www.discovernorthernireland.com/cycling or Callsave 1850 230 230.

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