Following the news in January that the Tour de France 2014 will begin in Leeds on 5th July, it has also been announced that the Giro d'Italia will now begin in Belfast; this means that two of cycling's Grand Tours will both make visits to Britain and Ireland next year.
Given that the Yorkshire Dales and Ireland are not easily mistaken for the French Riviera and Lake Como respectively, you may find this news somewhat confusing.
However, the hosting of the Giro d’Italia in Ireland could have a commercial return of around £10m, and a similar figure can be expected when the Tour De France hits Yorkshire.
Yorkshire’s hosting of arguably the biggest event in cycling in the Tour de France will put places like Addingham, Pool-in-Wharfedale, Ilkley, Otley and Skipton on the map.
The same can also be said of the Irish villages that competitors will be riding through, when the official route for the Grand Partenza(Big Start) of the Giro d’Italia is announced in the near future; all that is known currently is the route will involve routes taking in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin, and will feature over 200 of the world’s top cyclists.
Since the Giro was first held 104 years ago, the start of the event was traditionally hosted in Italy, but recently it has been awarded to an outside country every other year. Ireland will play host to the Giro’s 11th foreign start, joining the likes of San Marino, Montevallo, Belgium, Vatican City, Greece, France, Holland (Twice), Belgium and Denmark.
Likewise, the Tour de France last visited the UK in 2007, when London played host to the prologue and opening stage of the race; 2014 is the fourth time that the Tour de France has visited Britain after visits in 1974,1994 and 2007.
Many feel that this is only right, given the resounding success of the British cyclists at London 2012, which looks set to continue for the immediate future following Mark Cavendish’s victory in Qatar; from where we’re standing, there has never been a better time to grab a slice of the cycling action!
The hosting of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia in the UK and Ireland is bound to be a huge boost for the economy; it is also bound to be an incredible spectacle for non-cyclists that are curious to see what all the fuss is about, and for cycling fanatics alike.
However, in order to truly experience the passion that the people of France and Italy have for the sport of cycling, you need to be in the saddle for yourself!
Unfortunately, if you are expecting to be able to turn up with your trusty bike and expect to join in when two of cycling’s Grand Tours begin, you will be severely disappointed.
The Giro d’Italia and the Tour De France are two of the most gruelling cyclingevents in the world (if you doubt this statement, just look at the grimaces permanently etched onto the faces of PROFESSIONAL riders), and entry to these events is strictly limited to professionals; meaning you’ve got some serious training to do before next year if you want to take part!
Fortunately, you don’t need to have 4% body fat and the VO2 Max of 80 in order to experience some of the most exquisitely unspoilt provinces of France and Italy, as you take in their spectacular countryside and coastlines.
There is an extensive range of cycling holidays in France and Italy available online, which will give you an authentic experience of cycling in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.
Our friends over at Saddle Skedaddle offer cycling holidays in France and Italy, which closely resemble the mountain climbs and stunning backdropsof the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France; you are also free to tackle them at your own pace, as opposed to turning red in the face whilst trying to keep up with the Peloton!
Two of our favourite cycling holidays are the Lakes of Lombardia Italian Cycling Holiday, which is almost always visited by the Giro d’Italia; and the Raid Alpine French Cycling Holiday, which is a 740km route that takes in some of the most famous mountain climbs featured in the Tour de France.
So now you can have the best of both worlds; you can experience the wonder and spectacle that is the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia on your doorstep; you also have the opportunity to feel what it’s like to be a professional cyclist by partaking in a cycling holiday in France or Italy (you’ll also have plenty of time to grow some Wiggins-esque sideburns in preparation)!