Video: Festival atmosphere at Titanic Giro start line

The streets may have been deserted in terms of traffic but they were lined with thousands of spectators as Northern Ireland’s capital geared up for the start of one of cycling’s biggest races on Friday.

It was strangely quiet in the city ahead of the race, with many roads closed but there was a festival atmosphere from early on as crowds grew, congregating at various points throughout the route.

Orica GreenEdge team pictured at the start of the 97th Giro d'Italia at Titanic Belfast

Orica GreenEdge team pictured at the start of the 97th Giro d'Italia at Titanic Belfast

At the Titanic Quarter start line families, cyclists, couples and friends enjoyed the build-up as music blared and the aroma of burgers wafted through the air from early afternoon.

Stalls boasting cycling clothing, food, coffee and ice-cream kept crowds entertained until 5.45pm when the first team set off en route to Stormont, finishing up at City Hall.

Around 90 minutes ahead of the start a cavalcade of sponsor vehicles, interspersed with police motorbikes and cars, speeded through the empty roads.

Horns beeped and crowds cheered and clapped, as excitement grew for the riders to sprint through the city streets.

It was expected the 27km route would be completed in just 17 minutes, as cyclists reached speeds of around 40mph.

Sandra Crymble from Portadown took her grandchildren Jamie Crymble and Clara Emerson down to Belfast for the day and said she couldn’t believe how lively the atmosphere was.

“My husband Graham is very interested in cycling,” she told the News Letter.

“We are really enjoying this day out and will follow the race on Saturday and on Sunday when comes to Armagh. It is just fantastic for Northern Ireland and the atmosphere is great for the children. It is even better than I expected.”

Various accents were heard on the streets as passersby included tourists from Italy, Colombia and further afield.

Volunteer Lynn Acheson from Armagh said it is great to be involved in a “good news story” for Northern Ireland.