McQuaid hoping Giro d’Italia start in Belfast will bring about return of Tour of Ireland
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

McQuaid hoping Giro d’Italia start in Belfast will bring about return of Tour of Ireland

by Shane Stokes at 7:55 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
“We have always been working on this as a catalyst”

Darach McQuaidThe Tour of Ireland was last run in 2009 but one of those who was involved in its organisation, Darach McQuaid, has said he is hopeful that the race will return as a result of the Grand Tour taking place in the country next year.

McQuaid has played an important role in bringing the 2014 Giro d’Italia to Ireland and recognises the publicity boost that cycling will reap as a result of the Grande Partenza next May.

“We have always been working on this as a catalyst for bringing the Tour of Ireland back,” he told VeloNation this week. “Front and centre, [a big aim is] that the Tour of Ireland can be relaunched on the back of the Giro and of world cycling coming to Ireland again.”

The hosting of the first three days of the Giro in Ireland was announced last February and confirmed again last week when the route was unveiled on Monday. The race will begin on May 9th with a 21.7 kilometre team time trial starting and finishing in Belfast, while the following day will see the riders tackle a 218 kilometre road stage.

Day three takes the riders 187 kilometres from Armagh in the north to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, crossing the border prior to a transfer back to Italy.

Much is justifiably being made of the start in the North, not least because of symbolism of a major international sporting event being hosted by a region which has recovered from years of political conflict, but less details were available prior to this week about the Dublin stage.

It will finish on Upper Merrion Street and, according to McQuaid, there will be a number of related activities which should boost numbers.

“There will be a festival in the interior of Merrion Square Saturday and Sunday. We are merging with the Irish Cycling Show which is going to be there, and an Italian food and wine festival…there is going to be a good Saturday and Sunday festival going on in Merrion square.

“There will be big screens for the Saturday stage and for Sunday, and there will be loads of stuff going on in Dublin, Drogheda and Dundalk.”

Aside from the immediate return, in terms of tourism revenue, television publicity for the country and the chance for Irish riders to compete in a Grand Tour on home soil, McQuaid agrees that there should also be medium to long-term benefits too.

“There’s no doubt about it. The federation [Cycling Ireland – ed.] have been doing a great job with or without the Giro coming. The numbers have been going up in a fairly serious way the last couple of years.

“But if you think back to 1998 when the Tour de France started and a young Philip Deignan went down to Dublin, saw it and wanted to become a pro bike rider and went on to do what he did, I would love to see the same thing happen again.”

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