The 2014 Giro d’Italia, which will begin in Northern Ireland, will begin a day sooner than normal to include three rest times.

The race begins on Fri 9 May with three stages in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It is the 11th period the race has started outdoors Italy.

The race, which will also have two individual time trials and several tough mountain stages in the final week, will finish on 1 June in Trieste.

As
revealed by BBC Northern Ireland in europe last week, the opening twenty one. 7km team time trial will begin at Titanic Belfast – the visitor centre at the site of the famous ship’s construction.

The 218km Sunday leg starts in Belfast and goes to Antrim, Ballymena, Bushmills and the Giant’s Causeway, taking in the coastline from Cushendall to Larne on to Whitehead and Carrickfergus before time for Belfast.

The final stage of the Ireland in europe leg, on Sunday 11 Might, will see the riders will embark on a 187km cross-border section through Armagh to Dublin.

The bikers will then have a rest day before the Italian section of the race starts in Giovinazzo on the Adriatic coast on 13 May.

The race,
won this year by Italian Vincenzo Nibali, will also mark the 10th anniversary of Italian rider Marco Pantani’s death, along with several stages dedicated to the climber who won both the Giro and the Tour de France in 1998 but died from cocaine poisoning in 2004.

Stage eight through Foligno to Montecopiolo will include the particular Carpegna climb where Pantani used to train, and uphill finishes within Oropa (Stage 14) and Montecampione (Stage 15) will recall two of his well-known victories in the race.

The gruelling Gavia and Stelvio climbs on the way to the finish in Val Martello are also back again on the schedule after
bad weather meant they could not be tackled this year.

The penultimate stage on 31 May through Maniago to Monte Zoncolan includes a mountain-top finish that should decide the particular race before the final stage’s routine finish in Trieste.