Sports

Cyclists set to return to South Down Giro route

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

THIS WEEKEND sees the return of the popular cycle race, the Gran Fondo.

The Giro d'Italia legacy event returns to the area for the third time, taking in the scenic views of the Mournes.

Thousands of people took part last year, including many residents of Rathfriland. Indeed, in 2015 Rathfriland woman Alwynne Shannon was the first woman to cross the finish line.

This year's race takes place this Sunday (4 June) and will run on police-closed roads.

Cyclists start at Titanic Belfast at 7am and will leave the city on the rolling and twisting roads of Co. Down before taking in the mountain roads.

The Mourne will cover 175km, while a shorter route of 58km will take cyclists around the coast of Strangford.

A number of roads in the Ballyward, Rathfriland, Hilltown and Spelga areas will be affected, and signs highlighting the affected roads are set to appear during the course of this week .

They will act as gateways, which are controlled crossing points, which facilitate traffic across the intended cycle route.

The Dree Hill to Leitrim area will close at 8am and open at 10am, the Leitrim to Hilltown area will close at 8.30am and open at 11am, while the Hilltown to Spelga Dam section of the course will close from 8.45am to 11.45am.

The gateways will be located at Kilnhill Road/Ribadoo Road/Legananny Road, Ballydrumman Road/Lighthouse Road/Derryneil Road, Moneyslane Road/Ballyward Road/Dromara Road, Tirkelly Road/Whitegate Road/Ballyroney Road, Ballyroney Road/Dromore Street/Banbridge Road, Dromore Street/Main Street/Newry Street, Castlewellan Road / Downpatrick Street/Hilltown Road, Hilltown Road/Lisnamulligan Road/Cross Road and Hilltown Square.

Only emergency services will be allowed access at Spelga Dam.

For the Mournes area the cut-off will be in Hilltown at 11am, after 70km on course.

This means that all riders who fail to make it to this point in Hilltown Square by 11am must take the 10.5km journey on open public roads along the B8 Castlewellan Road and right onto the B27 Kilkeel Road and then left onto the Bryansford Road, where they will rejoin the route at the junction of Slievenaman Road and on to the official Gran Fondo course and complete the ride on closed roads.

After Spelga Dam, roads around the Castlewellan and Dree Hill areas will also be closed from 10am to 1.45pm before riders make their way back to Belfast.

More information on the event can be found at www.granfondogiroditaliani.com

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