Giro d’Italia breaks new ground as Israel confirmed for 2018 ‘Big Start’

RCS Sport, organiser of the Giro d’Italia, has today (Monday) formally confirmed Israel as host for the ‘Big Start’ of the 2018 edition of the cycling race, revealing that the country saw off competition from a host of other candidates from Italy and elsewhere to secure hosting rights.

In July, various media reports suggested that Israel would stage the event for the first time in the race’s history. Last week, the Israeli sports ministry revealed that a deal had been agreed and an official announcement would be made today.

Confirmation of Israel as host for the Big Start will ensure the Giro, one of cycling’s three ‘Grand Tour’ events, will start outside of Europe for the first time. Washington D.C. in the US was mooted as a possible host for the 2012 Big Start, but was unable to finalise an agreement to stage the event.

Israel will stage the opening three stages of next year’s race, beginning with an individual time trial event in Jerusalem on May 4. The country will then host two in-line stages during the 2018 Big Start, with the second stage running on a 167km route from Haifa to Tel Aviv, before the 226km third stage from Be’er Sheva to the port of Eilat.

Paolo Bellino, general manager of RCS Sport, said: “For the whole RCS group, and for the Giro d’Italia in particular, it is a unique opportunity to bring our event to Israel; a Grand Tour outside Europe for the first time. The internationalisation of our events, and exploring new frontiers – in particular for the Corsa Rosa – are objectives than make us look beyond the borders of Italy, without ever forgetting our own history and country. 

“The Giro needs to become more than a showcase to promote the Italian country to the world. It’s also for this reason that we have chosen Israel as the venue for the 2018 Big Start from the many requests we have received both from within Italy and from abroad.”

Yariv Levin, Israel’s Minister of Tourism, added: “This year marks a record year for tourism to Israel. As part of this revolution in marketing Israel as a destination for leisure and tourism, we are bringing the Giro d’Italia to our country – a spectacular race which will showcase Israel’s amazing landscape to hundreds of millions of viewers in nearly 200 countries across the world. 

“We have worked during the last year with the Giro to publicise Israel through the race on Eurosport. This year, we will increase this cooperation and I am sure we will see very positive results. Together, we will promote Israel as an attractive tourist destination. Images of Israel’s spectacular landscape will give further impetus to our campaigns across the world and I am sure that it will help bring further growth to tourism in Israel.”