Organisers of the Giro d'Italia have announced Israel will host the three opening stages of next year's race, marking the first time a cycling classic race will be held outside Europe
SHOWS: JERUSALEM (SEPTEMBER 18, 2017) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS 2. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI MINISTER OF TOURISM, YARIV LEVIN, SAYING: "I think this is great honour for us to host this Giro d'Italia. I think that this is a state of confidence about the ability of the state of Israel to organise a very big sports event. I think that everyone who will come here will enjoy an unbelievable experience. And of course this will be an excellent exposure for all the things that tourists can enjoy while it's coming here." 3. ANIMATION VIDEO SHOWING HEIGHT ILLUSTRATION OF ROUTE 4. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS 5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CYCLING GREAT AND FORMER WINNER OF GIRO D'ITALIA, ALBERTO CONTADOR, SAYING: "I think that this is a really good opportunity for all the people from Israel to look at this incredible race. It is a great event and if you look (at it) from the roads, it's also very different than if you look from the TV." 6. OFFICIALS STANDING ON STAGE STORY: Israel will host the three opening stages of next year's Giro d'Italia, the first time a cycling classic race will be held outside Europe, organisers said on Monday (September 18). The 101st edition of the Giro will open with a 10.1 kilometre individual time trial on May 4 in Jerusalem, followed by road races on the next two days, between Haifa and Tel Aviv (167-km) and Beersheba and Eilat (226-km). The Giro, along with the Tour de France and Spain's Vuelta comprise the world's three major cycling tours. The event has also been embraced by Israeli authorities aiming to boost tourism and is set to be one of the largest international sports events ever staged in the country, as it celebrates 70 years since its founding in 1948. He said he did not expect political pressures to disrupt the race, and maps provided by the organisers show that the stages will be run in territory held by Israel before the 1967 Middle East war. Although Israel is situated on the western edge of Asia, its sports organisations are affiliated with Europe. Around 200 riders are expected to compete. Israel hopes to enter a wild-card team, said Canadian-born Israeli Sylvan Adams, one of the organisers, who added that it was he who persuaded Giro officials to bring the race to the country. Former Giro winners Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso, who attended the launch, said the course in a new, untested environment would require careful tactical consideration by teams looking to gain an early advantage.