Details have been announced of next year’s Big Start of the Giro d’Italia in Israel, which will mark the first time any of cycling’s three Grand Tours will have started outside Europe.
The routes for the opening three stages of the race, which begins on Friday 4 May, were announced yesterday in Jerusalem, which will host a 10.1-kilometre individual time trial as the 101st edition of the race begins.
That will be followed by two stages that look suited to the sprinters – a 167-kilometre Stage 2 from Haifa to Tel Aviv, followed by a 226-kilometre stage from Be'er Sheva to the Red Sea resort of Eilat at the country’s southern tip.
Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni, speaking at yesterday’s launch, said: “We are really proud to announce this Big Start to the world today.
“Every year the Giro tells the stories of places of great interest. Cities such as Jerusalem, with the initial ITT, Tel Aviv, with the finish on the seafront, the starts from Haifa and Be’er Sheva, Eilat and the Red Sea, are part of this philosophy.
“The territories crossed by the stages in Israel will show to the world tradition, culture and beautiful landscape. We will see spectacular stages, that will surprise both from a sporting perspective and from the landscape point of view.
“I am convinced the welcome for the Corsa Rosa – as we have already seen in the previous Big Starts abroad – will be really special,” he added.
Two former winners of the Giro d’Italia were present at the launch – Ivan Basso, and Alberto Contador, who said: “It is amazing that the Giro d'Italia will start outside Europe, and that’s good news for the world of cycling.
“I have already visited Israel and Jerusalem in 2012 so I know how this will be an exceptional Giro and a great opportunity for the people.
“I encourage everyone to go on the streets to watch the race live and experience the great emotions that only the Giro can give.”
Contador added: “For me it is an incredible race with special fans; in the three years I raced the Giro I rode every day with a smile on my face.”
The race’s visit will be by far the biggest sporting event hosted in Israel and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the country’s foundation.
Israel’s minister of culture and sport, Miri Regev, commented: “It is our tremendous privilege to be a host country for a sporting event so great and important.
“I call on you, everyone who loves the Giro, to come here to Israel. This bike race across the Holy Land will be a fascinating journey through time covering thousands of years. I'm sure it will be a thrilling experience for everyone.”
Following an early rest day on Monday 7 May, it is expected that the race will recommence on Sicily.
As we reported last week, the Welsh Government is in discussions to host a future Giro d'Italia Big Start which would mark the race's second visit to the UK following its departure from Belfast in 2014.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.