Cyclist jumps the gun for Giro race

Joff Summerfield tests out the route of the Giro d'Italia in Belfast

Joff Summerfield tests out the route of the Giro d'Italia in Belfast

First published in National News © by

Some of the world's top cyclists are gearing up in Northern Ireland for the start of one of the sport's most prestigious races - but one adventurous pedaller has already crossed the finish line.

As the region prepares to host the first stages of the Giro d'Italia, Londoner Joff Summerfield today jumped the starter's gun and completed the time trial course in Belfast on his home-made penny farthing.

The 46-year-old drew curious glances from morning commuters as he weaved in and out of the traffic in a city that has already turned pink - the colour synonymous with the Giro - ahead of tonight's opening ceremony.

The route will be closed off when the professionals get their turn on the 21.7km time trial course tomorrow.

But Mr Summerfield, who is starting a world tour with his bike later this year, said he did not mind sharing the roads today.

"It was fantastic. I got a bit of traffic, but I had a great time and I am pretty puffed out now," he said after crossing the finishing line at the landmark City Hall.

"With the penny it's just great, you get loads and loads of positive reaction, and in Belfast it has been fantastic from the moment we got off the plane, everyone has been so friendly - it's just brilliant being here."

He said the penny farthing's lack of gears told on the steep climb up to the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"The road up to Stormont Castle, that was tough, I had to really grind away on that but I managed to get to the top no problem at all," he said.

While in Belfast, the bike maker is keen to promote the fact the Tour de France will be stopping off in London in July after starting in Yorkshire.

"The fact we are having the tour in London, especially for me because I live in London, it's going to brilliant," he said.

"That's there on Monday July 7th, it's going to be a fantastic event and we want everyone to come to London, and hopefully it's going to be as good as it's going to be here in Belfast tomorrow and over the weekend."

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