BREAKING NEWS….TOURSIM Minister Arlene Foster has announced on Thursday morning that the Giro d’Italia Grande Partenza will take place in Northern Ireland from 10th-12th May, 2014.
The Irish stages of the cycling event will take place in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin.
The cycling event – which stared in 1909 – will officially start in Belfast.
Tourism officials and government representatives from both sides of the border attended Thursday’s launches at Titanic Belfast and Dublin’s Civic Offices on Wood Quay.
It is estimated that it will cost around £4m will be required to bring the event to Ireland but that the commercial return could be in the region of £10m.
It is the first time the Giro has come to Ireland and will mean that cycling’s two Grand Tours will both make visits to Britain and Ireland next year, with the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire.
The Republic of Ireland did welcome the Tour de France in 1998 when the first three days of the race took place in the country.
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal won the 2012 Giro.
Previous winners include Ireland’s Stephen Roche, who won in 1987 a couple of months before his Tour de France triumph.
Roche attended Thursday’s launch in Belfast and he predicted “incredible spin-offs” for Ireland from the event.
“The Giro is maybe distinctive in that it is probably the second biggest event for me, in my opinion (after the Tour de France),” added Roche.
“When you consider the passion these people have, the passion these people have shown to us this morning, it is duplicated throughout the whole Italian nation,” he said.
Roche, who went on win the Tour de France and world championship later months later in 1987, spoke of his fond memories of his Giro triumph.
“When you see all the people on the roadsides of Italy, the enthusiasm of poor and rich, they all come together for this event.”