FEATURE: ‘Kaner’s Corner’ ready to challenge the Tifosi

Davy Kane
Davy Kane

Former Ireland international cyclist, Dave Kane, could have been forgiven for getting over excited when he heard the Giro D’Italia was coming to Belfast.

The man who made a record 32 appearances for Ireland, just could not believe his luck when he found out the Giro would be passing by his shop where his two sons Paul and Mark also work.

“I just couldn’t believe it. I had heard that it was coming to Northern Ireland, but not only that coming to Belfast, and then coming past the door of our two shops, up and down the Newtownards Road. It was totally phenomenal luck really,” he admitted.

“Like most bike enthusiasts, I’ve been to the continent and seen the races first-hand, and to think the Giro is coming here is totally unbelievable.

“Personally, I believe the Giro d’Italia is a more passionate race than the Tour de France which has become very commercialised.

“You go back to the likes of Fausto Copppi, Alfredo Binda and Gino Bartali, some of the great Italian sporting legends that give it a different aura to the Tour de France.

“We are really prepared for the event. We have Kaner’s Corner a 50-metre length of pavement from one shop to the other where we hope to cater for up to 1,000 fans.

“It will be bunged with people ready for the spectacle, and that’s what it will be, a great night out to enjoy one of the greatest sporting events in the world.

“We have our boutique done up naturally in pink and we also have a replica of the signature bike that Stephen Roche won the Giro back in 1987,” said Davy, who believes that Northern Ireland will not see anything like it.

“ To be honest I still don’t think the general public has really got to grips of what they are about to see. Most see this as just another bike race and involves a lot of people.

“But you are gong to get the Tifosi, which is the name for the fanatical Italian fans, coming over in their droves, the Dutch will be over, as will be the French.

“But it is also so handy to the England, Scotland and Wales where all the cycling buffs will have just a short hop over,” said Davy, whose enthusiasm is evident in every word.

“Cycling is already in an upward spiral, and as a shop owner, we can see it particularly in the leisure end of things,” explained Davy, who at 73 still pushes a mighty gears around the country roads of the province.

He says that cycling is the new golf, which, according to Mark Twain, “is a good walk spoiled!”

“A lot of people in other sports when they got injured or retired, used to take up golf.

“Now they jump on a bike as it is not as severe and it’s non-load bearing, easier on the joints and certainly better for your fitness.

“There are now more cycle paths being opened up for the general public and when the Giro passes through, there will be a call for more I’m certain of that.”

So just how big is the Giro?

“I always tell people that in footballing terms, it is like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool and all the top clubs in the world coming here to play in a tournament,” said Davy.

“The difference is you can watch all the big names in cycling for free!

“All my heroes will be in town,” said Davy who is built like the inside of a ball-point pen.

He participated in three Commonwealth Games with a fifth place in Jamaica 1966, which only local boy David McCann has equalled.

“The big thing about the start here in Belfast is that we are not only getting three stage starts, but the Grande Partenza itself.

“That’s massive. All the riders will be over from the Tuesday before the first stage on the Friday.

“They will be out and about on the streets, talking to people. For that whole week there will carnival time.

“The team presentation on the Thursday evening is akin to the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

“All 198 riders will be introduced to the crowds at the City Hall, where they will mingle with the crowd, it will be a great party atmosphere,” explained Davy who held the Belfast to Dublin cycling record for 28 years before Tommy Evans finally bettered it in 1995 in just over for hours.