Thursday, July 18, 2019 -
Print Edition

First ‘Grand Tour’ cycling race in Israel

L-r: Sylvan Adams, Nir Barkat, Ivan Basso, Yariv Levin, Alberto Contador, Miri Regev and Mauroa Vegni.

L-r: Sylvan Adams, Nir Barkat, Ivan Basso, Yariv Levin, Alberto Contador, Miri Regev and Mauroa Vegni.

JERUSALEM — In May, 2018, the Giro d’Italia, a major event in the global sporting calendar, will begin in Jerusalem. This will be the first time in history that a Grand Tour — cycling’s three major races — has taken place outside of Europe, and will be the most prestigious sporting event ever held in Israel.

In addition to the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, the Giro is one of cycling’s Grand Tours.

Commencing on May 4, this prestigious event will see 176 of the world’s top cyclists begin the competition against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The schedule for the three-day “Big Start” is:

• Day One will see riders begin the race against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s iconic Old City on a 10.1km time-trial tour of the city.

• Day Two begins at the scenic Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, then passing through historic Acre and Caesarea, before riders head to the finish line on Tel Aviv’s beachside promenade, totaling 167km.

• Day Three begins in Beersheba and takes in southern Israel’s most dramatic scenery, including the breathtaking Ramon Crater, finishing at the Red Sea resort of Eilat, totaling 226km.

The Giro will finish three weeks later on May 22 in Italy.

The race will pay tribute to legendary Italian cyclist, Gino Bartali, a three-time Giro winner.

Bartali helped rescue hundreds of Italian Jews during the Holocaust and was recognized by Yad Vashem in 2013 as Righteous Among the Nations.

The Giro takes place annually in Italy over 21 stages during a three-week period and is watched by hundreds of millions of viewers in 194 countries. Next year’s race will be its 101st edition.

Since 2006, the Giro has commenced every other year with a high-profile “Big Start” outside Italy. Previous Big Starts have brought the excitement of the Giro to Holland, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Belgium. Next year’s ‘Big Start’ in Israel will be the first time the Giro, the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España has been held outside Europe.

The Jerusalem Big Start was launched Sept. 18 at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem.

Dignitaries in attendance included Italy’s Sports Minister Luca Lotti, Israel’s Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev, Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Israel’s, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and cycling legends Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso.

Also in attendance was honorary president of “Big Start Israel” Sylvan Adams, the driving force behind Israeli cycling and bringing the Giro to Israel.

Speaking at the launch, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said:

“Hundreds of millions of viewers around the globe will watch as some of the world’s best cyclists ride alongside the walls of Jerusalem’s ancient Old City and our historic sites. Our message to the world is clear: Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, is open to all.”

Alberto Contador added:

“It is very good for the world of cycling to start the Giro out of Europe. 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.”

Sylvan Adams said:

“This historic Big Start of the 101st edition of the Giro is about showcasing our country to hundreds of millions of TV and live spectators: our beautiful outdoor scenery, sharing our history, our culture, and most of all our people, in this diverse, free, pluralistic and fiercely democratic society.”

Leave a Reply