Official confirmation came this week that Carrickfergus Borough is included in the route for one of the world’s biggest cycling events.
A stage of the prestigious Giro d’Italia – the second biggest and most competitive race only to the Tour de France – will pass through the town on Saturday, May 10 2014.
Spectators at Whitehead and Greenisland are also expected to catch a glimpse of the elite riders as they make their way along the coastal route to Belfast.
Expressing delight at the announcement, the Mayor, Alderman Billy Ashe, said: “We couldn’t have hoped for better timing with the stage passing through Whitehead, Carrickfergus and Greenisland on its return leg to Belfast on the Saturday afternoon.”
It is understood that Carrick Castle was one of the locations visited earlier this year as part of attempts to secure the prestigous event.
East Antrim DUP MLA Alastair Ross, who as Assembly Private Secretary at the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment travelled to Italy last year and has been involved in negotiations about the race, said: “I am confident that the teams, supporters and international journalists who will travel to the province for the Giro will be impressed by the scenic beauty of the route and the enthusiastic welcome from people right across Northern Ireland. This international coverage, in more than 165 countries who broadcast the race, will be a fantastic opportunity for East Antrim.”
It is a further sporting boost for the borough having previously welcomed the Olympic Torch Run and more recently staged two cycling events from the World Police and Fire Games.
East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs aid: “It is fantastic news that the Giro d’Italia will be passing along the Antrim Coast road on the Saturday stage of the race on May 10 next year. We will be able to catch the event passing through Carnlough, Glenarm, Ballygally, Larne, Glynn, Magheramorne, Whitehead, Carrickfergus and Whiteabbey as it heads to Belfast.
“This has echoes of last year when the Olympic torch relay made its way through a long stretch of East Antrim along the Coast Road. I would love to see local communities and sports clubs getting involved in 2014 by organising their own events to celebrate the Giro d’Italia coming to East Antrim and Northern Ireland.”
Last year’s Giro was broadcast in 165 countries, reaching 125 million households.
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