International cycling race, Giro D’Italia, to kick off 2018 in Jerusalem

Official presentation of Giro D’Italia Big Start 2018 Israel (Photo courtesy)

In what may be the most important international sporting event Israel has ever hosted, the Giro D’Italia, one of cycling’s three grand tours, will take place in the Jewish State next year.

Together with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana, the Giro D’Italia is one of the three most prestigious cycling events in the world. The annual race is watched by hundreds of millions of views in 194 countries. This will be the very first time one of the three grand tours has started outside of Europe.

Attended by a number of dignitaries including Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Italian Sports Minister Luca Lotti and famous cyclists Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso, the “Big Start” to the 2018 Giro was announced in Jerusalem last month.

The race will start in Jerusalem on May 4, 2018.

“It is very good for the world of cycling to start the Giro out of Europe,” Contador told reporters. “I was here in 2012 and saw the country. I am sure that it will be great and a very good opportunity for the people of Israel and the world to see this incredible event.”

Regarding security, Contador, a two-time winner of the Giro and the Tour de France was satisfied with Israel’s safety.

“The situation in the world is a little crazy at the moment and it isn’t just in one country, but all the world,” he noted. “I’m sure the riders will be happy with the security situation. I think it will be a very good opportunity for them to experience a different country and different cultures.”

Crossing the country, 176 top cyclists will begin the race in Jerusalem’s Old City on day one. Day two will start in Haifa and the cyclists will pass through Akko and Caesarea, ending in Tel Aviv. Day three will kick off in Beersheba and finish in Eilat.

The race, which is the Giro’s 101st edition, is being dedicated as a tribute to Italian cyclist Gino Bartali, three-time winner of the Giro, who helped rescue hundreds of Italian Jews during the Holocaust.

“The start from Jerusalem is a metaphorical bridge between our two lands, made up of history, culture and traditions,” Lotti said.

Tens of thousands of tourists and cycling fans are expected to arrive in Israel to watch the race.

“It is our great privilege, to be a host country for a sporting event so great and important,” Regev said. “I call on you, all lovers of the race, to come here to Israel. This cycling tour across the Holy Land will become a fascinating journey through time covering thousands of years. I’m sure it will be a thrilling experience for everyone.”