Thousands brave the rain to witness Giro spectacle

May 12, 2014

Heavy showers did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of spectators who turned out to witness the final stage of the Giro d’Italia’s Grande Partenza sweep through south Armagh on Sunday.

Heeding the warnings of road closures, from early morning keen spectators made their way to vantage points along the 187km route, which began in Armagh city around 10.00am, en route to Dublin.

Closer to home, the villages of Newtownhamilton, Belleek, Lislea and Forkhill pulled out all the stops and laid on family entertainment throughout the day.  There was a distinct carnival atmosphere as the huge crowds waited patiently for several hours to witness some of the world’s top cyclists battle for the coveted race leader’s pink jersey.

Homes and businesses along the route were festooned with pink flags and decorations to mark the unique occasion and with an estimated world-wide television audience of 775 million, the true spirt of south Armagh was displayed in all its colourful glory.

Many spectators travelled long distances from throughout the country and across the water for a chance to see this once-in-a-lifetime event take place in Northern Ireland.

As the cyclists, numbering over 200 and representing more than 30 countries, whizzed by they were cheered on by the huge crowds as they made their way towards the border and on to Dublin for a sprint finish.

The visit of the Giro d’Italia to Northern Ireland – the biggest ever sporting event to be held here – has been hailed a huge success and has impressed the many visitors who travelled from far afield.

Acknowledging the efforts of everyone involved in delivering such a huge event, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, said visitors have been “overwhelmed” by the warmth of the welcome they have received.

“I would like to thank everyone who was involved in making the Grande Partenza a success – from the huge band of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers to anyone who got ‘in the pink’ to support the race,” she said.

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