The excitement and anticipation for the Giro d’Italia has been building since October and last Sunday afternoon the world famous race finally paid it’s visit to our town and put Dundalk on the international map.
Dundalk embraced the Giro cyclists and their entourage of over 80 vehicles including 3,500 people made up of press and logistics, including a helicoptor which flew overhead recording the race.
The sporting event of the decade began in Belfast on Friday before heading to Armagh and the Dundalk, finishing up in the capital, Dublin.
When the riders reached Dundalk they sprinted to the line at the Green Church, the only sprint this side of the border and a fantastic sight to witness.
Crowds of people lined the Giro streets of Dundalk: Clanbrassil Street, Crowe Street, Francis Street, Parke Street and the Dublin Road. Hundreds of supporters also turned out at Kilcurry, Castlebellingham and Dunleer.
Everyone made an effort to make sure our Wee County was awash with colour and dressed in pink.
A global television audience of 775 million people had their eyes on us as the cyclists flew through the town at speeds of up to 40km and businesses around the town did us all proud with their freshly painted and decorated premises in the Giro’s signature pink colour.
Dundalk was a designated stop for the Giro caravan carnival which precluded the race and entertained the crowds including handing out free goodies.
Other exciting events took place on the day including a cycling time trial competition on the Market Square hosted by Halfords Dundalk who gave away a top of the range bike worth €800.
There was a real carnival atmosphere in the town with street performers, cycling enthusiasts, visitors from Belfast and Italy and face painters all joining in on the fun.
The big screen at The Square played a huge part in building up the atmosphere with a live stream of the race as it approached and fans were able to stay on in Dundalk and watch the remainder of the race as it made its conclusion in Dublin.
Many of the businesses across Dundalk showed their support by opening especially for the day and Dundalk Town Council announced that there would be free parking all weekend.
A big thank you is extended to all of the people of Dundalk whose enthusiasm, commitment and creativity helped put Dundalk on the map for similar opportunities in the future.
A special thank you also has to be said to Pat O’Shaughnessy, who led the negotiations for Cuchulainn CC with Giro organisers and whose commitment and dedication made this event happen. and all the great volunteers.
Hosting the Giro d’Italia showed the world that our small country can hold a world class event and Dundalk was part of it.