JERUSALEM, 18 September 2017 – Government ministers from Israel and Italy, the Mayor of Jerusalem, race officials and some of the biggest names in world cycling gathered in Jerusalem today to launch the ‘Big Start’ to the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
 
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. Over the following two days, the competitors will ride from the North of Israel to the tip of the Red Sea, taking in breathtaking views from start to finish. 

The Giro will finish three weeks later on 22 May in Italy. As a result, the 2018 Giro will carry a strong message of peace and coexistence, with its journey representing the ability of sport to build bridges between people, religions and nations.
 
The Giro d’Italia, which takes place annually in Italy over 21 stages during a three-week period, is watched by hundreds of millions of viewers in 194 countries. Next year’s race will be the 101st edition of the Giro.
 
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 Espana has been held outside Europe.
 
The dignitaries at today’s launch event in the Waldorf Astoria, Jerusalem included Italy’s Sports Minister Luca Lotti, Israel’s Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev, Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and cycling legends Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso. Also in attendance was Honorary President of ‘Big Start Israel’ Sylvan Adams, who is the driving force behind the development of Israeli cycling and bringing the Giro to Israel.
 
The ‘Big Start’ route will be comprised of three days. Click here to view and embed an interactive route guide:
 
  • 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, totalling 167km.
  • Day Three begins in Beer Sheva and takes in southern Israel’s most dramatic scenery including the breathtaking Ramon Crater, finishing at the Red Sea resort of Eilat, totalling 226km.
 
In addition to the competitors, officials and world media, tens of thousands of tourists and cycling enthusiasts are expected to arrive in Israel to experience the Giro d’Italia’s festive atmosphere. The race will be a major boost for cycling’s growing popularity in Israel – The country’s only professional team, the Israel Cycling Academy, founded in 2014 currently competes on the UCI Continental circuit.   
 
Speaking at the launch, Luca Lotti said: “The start from Jerusalem is a metaphorical bridge between our two lands, made up of history, culture and traditions. There is another aspect that makes me particularly proud: the fact that this edition of the Giro d’Italia will celebrate the memory of the great Gino Bartali. It is beautiful that he is remembered right here in Jerusalem because the great ‘Ginettaccio’ – as he was named by his fans and all his fellow sportsmen who loved and followed him – was not just a great champion of sport. He was also an extraordinary champion of life, and a man of heroic virtues, and this need to be commemorated, and shared, especially with the younger generations… never to be forgotten.”
 
Miri Regev added: “It is our great privilege, to be a host country for a sporting event so great and important. 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.”
 
Yariv Levin commented: “This year is a record year for incoming tourism in Israel. As part of this marketing revolution, positioning Israel as an attractive leisure and vacation destination to the wider public, we are bringing the Giro d’Italia to Israel. This amazing race will expose hundreds of millions of viewers in nearly two hundred countries around the world to Israel’s spectacular landscapes, our tourist sites and our perfect weather.
 
I am pleased to present our marketing campaign from the Tourism Ministry that will accompany the Giro in Israel.
 
The aim of the campaign is to attract as many tourists as possible during the course of the Giro and, of course, to promote Israel as an attractive tourism destination for viewers around the world. These stunning shots of Israel will give an added boost to our international campaigns and I am convinced that we will see yet another significant increase in incoming tourism to Israel.”
 
Nir Barkat said: “We are proud to host one of the biggest and most prestigious sports events in the world, and the biggest sporting event ever held in Israel, here in the city of Jerusalem. 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.”

“It is an incredible race… I always had a smile on my face!”   
 
Sylvan Adams added: “This historic Big Start of the 101st edition of the Giro is about showcasing our country to 100’s 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.”
 
“Let me personally invite you (and 800 million of your cycling friends) to travel here and experience the Giro in Israel next May 3rd-6th. If you’ve never visited before, you will be amazed by this special place. For returning visitors, come join the celebration, which may very well be Israel’s biggest ever outdoor party.”