Ulster Unionist Mid Ulster MLA, Sandra Overend, has today welcomed the announcement that Northern Ireland is to host the start of the Giro d’Italia, one of the world’s premier cycling events.
Sandra, who is the Party’s Economy Spokesperson, said:
“The announcement that Northern Ireland will host the opening stages of the Giro d’Italia is fantastic news for our tourism industry and adds to the standing of Northern Ireland as a top class venue for major events. I commend all of those involved in the successful bid. This event is amongst the most prestigious in the world of cycling and having more than 200 of the world’s best cyclists in Northern Ireland should provide a boost for the profile of cycling at all levels here.
I was particularly pleased to see local cycle business, Cicli Sport, assist in the launch of the announcement, having provided the Pinarello. Stephen Roche, who promoted today's announcement, is also coming to Moneymore this weekend to launch Cicli Sport's new Body Geometry Fit Room and to lead a 32 mile cycle out around Mid-Ulster.
Cycling regularly can bring about many benefits, such as weight loss, stress reduction and improved fitness, added to the fact that it is an environmentally friendly way to travel. Across the UK, participation in cycling is on the increase, inspired by our successful Olympians, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, and not forgetting our very own Wendy Houvenaghel. It would be great to see this trend continue in Northern Ireland as we currently having a relatively low percentage of journeys made by bicycle. Such a high profile cycling event has the potential to raise interest levels and participation levels.
The visitor numbers attracted to the Giro d’Italia will provide a significant boost to the economy and this event gives us the chance to promote Northern Ireland as the first class tourist destination which we know it to be.”
Ulster Unionist Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy also welcomed the news:
‘’I met with the lead organisers of this event towards the end of last year to discuss the road standards required for the Giro d’Italia and I am pleased that this dialogue has borne fruit. This is certainly a prestigious event which will be a tremendous boost for the Northern Ireland economy and we must work to maximise its potential in that respect.
I am also particularly pleased that the race involves routes within my own constituency in Armagh and it is therefore undoubtedly a positive event for my local area.’’