Giro D'Italia to start in Belfast

Britain will host the starts of two grand tours in 2014 after organisers confirmed next year's Giro d'Italia will begin in Northern Ireland.

With Yorkshire having already secured the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France, next year's tour of Italy will begin in Belfast on the first of three days on the Emerald Isle from May 10-12 that will also take in Armagh and Dublin.

It is understood the first two stages will be held around Belfast, with the third day starting in Armagh and ending in Dublin.

Michele Acquarone, head of RCS Sport, which organises the Giro, said: "Belfast will provide spectacular backdrops for the 2014 'Grand Partenza' and will add something very special into the history of this great cycling event."

The Giro has been held outside of Italy on 10 occasions, but never before in the United Kingdom.

The proposal was submitted by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and Failte Ireland in conjunction with Stormont and the Irish government.

It is estimated that hosting the event will cost 4million, but it is expected to generate up to 10million for the local economy.

Northern Ireland tourism minister Arlene Foster said: "Plans are already in motion to make the occasion a fabulous celebration worthy of Italian cycling traditions and the maglia rosa [pink jersey] itself."

The 2014 Tour de France will begin with two stages in Yorkshire followed by a third finishing on The Mall, London.