Northern Ireland is to stage a major cycling event linked to the Giro d'Italia race, which began in Belfast in May of this year.

The Gran Fondo will take place for the next three years beginning in June 2015. 

The event, which will start and finish at Titanic Belfast, will be open to amateur cyclists.

The organiser Darach McQuaid said he expected several thousand riders from Ireland and abroad to take part in the event which will be run on closed roads over a 177km route around the North.

The Stormont Investment Minister Arlene Foster said the Gran Fondo was a legacy event which would capitalise on the success of the Giro d'Italia.