Giro d’Italia

The Giro d’Italia 2014 stole a march on the Tour de France by bringing the opening weekend to Northern Ireland this May. Two Grand Tours to start in the UK in one year is yet another sign of the sport booming in the country.

The race will start on the Friday night with a team time trial in Belfast. The riders will roll out from the site where the Titanic was built on to a 21.7km flat course that takes in Stormont among other sites. The following stage is a flat run from Belfast back to Belfast coming back along the rugged coast. The final stage in Northern Ireland will finish in Dublin.

Tuesday will see the race travel back to the south of Italy on its first, and very early, rest day (the reason for the Friday start) from where it will pick up its traditional format. Mountains will again play a huge role in the race outcome as climbers like Nairo Quintana and Carlos Betancur are likely to challenge the likes of Richie Porte for the overall honours. For the first time in many years it is hard to see where the Italian challenge will come from as defending champion Vincenzo Nibali has decided to focus on the Tour de France this year.

The race will finish in Trieste on June 1.

Key riders: Nairo Quintana | Joaquim Rodriguez | Marcel Kittel | Rigoberto Uran

Previous editions: 2013 Giro | 2012 Giro | 2011 Giro | 2010 Giro