Hundreds of thousands of people lined highways and byways from Armagh to Dublin today to bid arrivederci to the Giro D’Italia.
One of the world’s most famous cycle races crossed the border from Armagh into Louth around lunchtime, then whizzed its way along the east coast towards Dublin.
Along the way young and old packed the streets of Castlebellingham, Drogheda, Skerries, Swords, Malahide and Clontarf for a glance of the speeding peloton and the famous Maglia Rosa – the leader’s pink jersey.
Many were kitted out in pink ponchos, raincoats and headwear to protect them from the forecasted rain.
But despite threatening weather in Dublin earlier in the day, the sun came out to welcome the 200 odd top level cyclists at the end of their 187 kilometre route.
Marcel Kittel was in the pink as he celebrated his 26th birthday in style by clinching victory in the stage three Irish leg.
The German rider collapsed off his bike at the end of a gruelling sprint finish after arriving into a thronged Merrion Square where crowds roared on the competitors outside the Irish Republic’s Government Buildings.
“It was close,” he admitted at the finish. “Actually I thought I lost the race already because I was really in a not good position, but when I saw the finish line I thought, ’You don’t give up now, you give everything you have.’
“I’m so happy that it was still enough.”
The three-week race, which was won by Ireland’s own Stephen Roche in 1987, now heads back home to Italy.