The Israeli city of Jerusalem will host the opening three stages of the 2018 Giro d’Italia, the opening Grand Tour of the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) World Tour season.
It will be the first time that any of cycling’s three Grand Tours – the Giro along with the Tour de France and Spain’s Vuelta a España – begins outside of Europe. The Giro’s 2018 ‘big start’ will be a ten-kilometre time trial around Jerusalem on 5th May, followed by two road stages, one from Haifa in northern Israel to Tel Aviv and another that will run through the Negev desert to the resort city of Eilat in the south of the country.
Race organiser RCS Sport had previously organised ‘big starts’ in Northern Ireland’s capital of Belfast and Herning in Denmark, while it had experience in the Middle East having organised a Jerusalem sportive ride in 2013 for 1,500 riders.
Although the financial terms have not been released, industry outlet Cycling Weekly reports that the main bulk of the funding for the stages will come from the Israeli tourist board and it estimates roughly a €12 million (US$11.9 million) budget, with around €4 million (US$4.8 million) going directly to RCS Sport.
"The historic Big Start of the 101st edition of the Giro is about showcasing our country to hundreds of millions of TV viewers and live spectators," said Sylvan Adams, a Canadian-Israeli real estate mogul and major contributor to the event. "With it we are sharing our beautiful scenery, our history, our culture, and most of all, our people, in this diverse, free, pluralistic and fiercely democratic society."
Italian Sports Minister Luca Lotti believed that the three days of cycling will be a “metaphorical bridge between our two lands [Italy and Israel]”.
The 2017 Giro d’Italia was won by Sunweb rider Tom Dumoulin, who became the first Dutchman to win the race, by a margin of 31 seconds over pre-race favourite Nairo Quintana of Movistar Team.