Belfast is gripped by Giro fever.
RCUK headed to the host city of the 2014 Grande Partenza to find the ‘fight for pink’ uppermost in the minds of the city’s nearly 300,000 residents.
Vistors arriving at Belfast City Airport are greeted by giant posters advertising the Giro, pink bicycles decorate pubs and shops, and there’s a buzz in the city that can perhaps only be generated by one of the world’s major sporting events.
Taxi driver, Kevin Doran, a Belfast man born and bred, who will coordinate journeys across the city when the roads close for the opening stage team time trial, said the Giro would showcase the city’s return to better times after the Troubles.
While the riders rested in the afternoon after a recce on the low profile steeds they’ll ride in the opening test, the mechanics worked to prepare their machines in the car parks of the hotels commandeered by the teams.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, the pre-race favourite, had his saddle position analysed by Cyclefit’s James Hewitt, using Gebeomized pressure mapping software to select one of three pads to be supplied to the Spanish WorldTour outfit by Scottish clothing brand, Endura.
We’ll bring you more on Quintana, the bikes, the teams, and, of course, the race, in subsequent features.
For now we’ll set the scene with a gallery of images taken 24-hours before the Grande Partenza of the 97th Giro d’Italia.