The 97th Giro starts with two stages in Belfast, Northern Ireland, before stage three makes its way to Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland. As with all Grande Partenza weekends, fans who are lucky enough to be there in person will enjoy a festive atmosphere (even if it rains!) and plenty of opportunities to meet the cyclists. Throw in a few pints of the black stuff and it’s a party.
Here’s what to expect from the opening trio of stages.
Stage 1: Fri 9th May, Belfast to Belfast, 21.7km team time trial
The Giro kicks off with a team time trial around Belfast. The teams twist and turn their way from the Titanic Museum to a long, straight stretch down the Newtownards Road to Stormont and back again, wending their way up to Donegall Sq North, for the right to wear the first maglia rosa of the 2014 race.
Stage 2: Sat 10th May, Belfast to Belfast, flat, 218km
The peloton heads north out of Belfast for this stage, all the way up the Giants Causeway, and then hugs the coast all the way back down to a likely sprint finish back in Belfast. The coast – the wild and windy Northern Irish coast – could add some echelon drama to the proceedings, so the sprint teams need to stay alert as it only takes one lapse of concentration for a stage hopeful to wave his chances goodbye.
That probably means we’ll see lots of Giant-Shimano supporting the team of the maglia rosa near the front of the bunch, keeping a watchful eye on behalf of Marcel Kittel, who will want to get his Giro off to a flying start..
Stage 3: Sun 11th May, Armagh to Dublin, flat, 187km
This stage has two tiny cat 4 climbs before it leaves Northern Ireland, then it’s flat until Dublin. The route does take the peloton down the coast, but it won’t be nearly as exposed as yesterday, so expect a bunch sprint at the finish on Merrion Street Upper.
With ten, six and four seconds on offer for the top three finishers, good results in these opening two flat stages could see a sprinter take the maglia rosa into the first rest day, as the Giro circus transfers back to Italy on Monday.
Link: Official website