ARMAGH will feature in the route of the prestigious Giro d’Italia cycling tour, it was revealed today.
The 2014 edition of the grand tour will begin in Ireland and it will be the first time a Grand Tour visits Ireland since it hosted the start of the 1998 Tour de France.
The race will start in Belfast on May 10 where the riders will complete two stage of the tour before the third stage begins in Armagh on May 12 and finishes in Dublin.
The riders will then transfer directly to Italy for the remainder of the Giro d’Italia.
Tourism minister Arlene Foster said: “Plans are already in motion to make the occasion a fabulous celebration worthy of Italian cycling traditions and the maglia rosa itself.”
The opening stage of the 104-year-old Giro is normally hosted in Italy but in recent times has been awarded to an outside country every two years.
Many towns are showing an interest in hosting the famous race but the exact route has yet to be decided.
Michele Acquarone, the Director General of RCS Sport, said: “We are delighted to be taking the Grande Partenza of the 2014 Giro d’Italia to Ireland. This is an ambitious project for us for many reasons.
“Using sport, in particular, cycling, to unite the island, is an idea we find deeply attractive. We recognise that, to do so, logistical perfection will be required on all sides.”
The President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), Pat McQuaid, is Irish.