Sean Kelly declares poor promotion of Giro d'Italia a 'scandal'

Sean Kelly declares poor promotion of Giro d'Italia a 'scandal'

IRISH cycling legend Sean Kelly believes Tourism Ireland’s lack of promotion of the Giro d’Italia coming to Dublin in May is a "scandal" and a missed opportunity.

The former world number one and Vuelta winner warned that Ireland is at risk of never being awarded a race of this status ever again, after wasting the publicity potential that came with the upcoming race.

He added that many people in Dublin are unaware that such a prestigious event will visit the city.

“It should be promoted more," he said of the race's visit to Ireland.

“I know nothing about it: “I think there’s an awful lot of the opportunity downstream already.”

“We’ve heard almost nothing about it. It’s going to be a long time before we get to host a big stage race again. I think it’s a scandal that Tourism Ireland are not doing something.”

He said that although tourism authorities in the North – where the majority of the action will be held - have been more proactive with promoting the race, more information needs to be publicised about all three stages.

The Giro d’Italia begins in Belfast on May 9 with a team time-trial, before a stage around the Antrim coastline, followed by a third stage from Armagh to Dublin's Merrion Square.

It is estimated that the popular event draws a global audience of 775 million people in 165 countries to which Ireland could showcase itself as a cycling and holiday destination.

Kelly suggested regarding promotion of the race: “I’m not patting myself on the back, but they should use Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche, Stephen Roche and myself.

“I think there should be more done with those guys, but there’s nothing being done.”

Martin begins his 2014 racing season today as he lines up as co-leader of the Garmin-SHARP team for the seven-day Tirreno Adriatico stage race in Italy.

He spoke of his excitement at getting his season underway, despite it being at a later date than usual.

“It’s what I wanted and planned for,” he said: “If I started a month ago I’d be flying by now and that would be a little dangerous, with the Giro still eight weeks away.

“I want to be in top form for that, and not now.