Northern Ireland gets in the pink for Giro d’Italia race

Reader Pictures submitted by Peter Armstrong
Reader Pictures submitted by Peter Armstrong

The Province has been quite literally tickled pink as excitement builds ahead of Giro d’Italia mania.

Onetime grey walls have been set awash with colour to greet the international sportsmen.

From Samson and Goliath in Belfast to shops on country lanes in north Antrim, if it could be painted pink, it has been.

The owner of Costcutters shop in Waterfoot, north Antrim, said: “If you were standing still long enough in the glens area you would have been painted pink as well.”

Brian Kearney, 47, said: “We had one of our shops painted pink, but the others have window graphics for the Giro. We had the shop painted pink in Waterfoot a few weeks ago because the cyclists are going past the front door.

“And now all that we need is the weather.

“The race will go ahead in spite of the weather of course, but we are hoping to capture the visitors as well.

“If you look at the whole Giro experience, the whole of Ballycastle, Waterfoot and the glens have really pushed the boat out on it.

“People are passionate about it here.

“Everyone has got behind it and are putting on events. There is a great buzz and people are so looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, for 73-year-old former Commonwealth cyclist Dave Kane, said the Giro d’Italia coming to Northern Ireland “is the event of my life”.

Mr Kane whose East Belfast shop, ‘Dave Kane cycles’, has been painted pink for the occasion said: “My last Commonwealth was in 1974 in New Zealand and my son was at the Olympics in Barcelona, so we are steeped in cycling. This event coming to Northern Ireland is unbelievable.

“You hear people talking about the tour of France which is so commercialised, but the Tour of Italy is totally different. It goes down back roads, car tracks, through wee villages. The Giro and the Italian people has more passion.”

Mr Kane said he was initially a little dubious that people in Northern Ireland would embrace the event.

“But they really have,” he said. “This is a massive event. This is the creme de la creme of bike riders in one of the most prestigious events in the world.

“We are going to show our country to about 185 other countries who will be tuned in to this live. Already today we have had Italians, Australians and Americans in the shop which shows the boost to tourism.

“The race will be going past my shop twice - up and down. If someone had told me 10 years ago the Giro was coming to Northern Ireland I would have said you are crazy. But it is going up and down the Newtownards Road. This is phenomenal for people in the cycling fraternity.”