The 2014 Giro d’Italia will start with three days of racing in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The route for next year’s major stage race was officially presented – with the help of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali – at a ceremony in Milan.
The race will begin on May 9th with an opening team time trial in Belfast and end on June 1 in Trieste.
Nibali gave the route the thumbs up although he won’t be participating as he focuses on the Tour de France.
He said: “I feel good, I saw the road map, the design is very good, very beautiful, challenging after my last win this year. It is hard for me to think I won’t be here next year.’‘
The opening two stages will take place in Belfast before a third stage south to Dublin.
It is the 11th time the race has started outside Italy.
The 97th edition of the event will feature three time trials, eight finishes for sprinters and nine hilly or mountain stages and will cover a total distance of 3450 kilometres.