Next month we will witness the Big Start of the 101st Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem May 3-6th, 2018.
This is historic in several ways:
– the first time a Grand Tour will race outside of Europe
– the largest event in the history of Israel. As many as 1 billion TV spectators and tens of thousands of physical Giro tourists will see a great deal of our beautiful country, over three full days
– race conclusion in Rome, rather than the traditional finish in Milan, the road from Jerusalem to Rome symbolizing the fraternity between Israel and Italy, and more importantly, peace and brotherhood between Judaism and Christianity
– first participation in a Grand Tour of Israel’s first and only professional team, Israel Cycling Academy
– the first time an Israeli rider will ride in a Grand Tour, and it will be on home soil.
The race will be preceded by a ceremony on May 3rd in Safra Square facing the City Hall of Israel’s magnificent capital of Jerusalem, where the presentation of the participating 2018 Giro athletes will take place. This will be followed by a grand gala opening party at the Tower of David in Jerusalem’s Old City.
May 4th, the 2018 Giro will begin with its first stage, a challenging up and downtime trial, through the winding streets of Jerusalem.
The following day, stage 2 will begin in the north, starting in diverse and welcoming Haifa, with its 40% Arab Israeli population, and travel through the historically significant landmarks of Acre, Caesaria, Zichron Yakov, on the way to the finish by the golden beaches in Israel’s metropolis of Tel Aviv.
The final Israeli stage, May 6th, will begin in the capital of the Negev, Be’er Sheva, and travel by Bedouin Arab villages through the dramatic Negev desert via the archeologically significant Mitzpe Ramon crater, to end at Israel’s southernmost point, the Red Sea tourist resort of Eilat. The Big Start will close with a party on the beach in Eilat, before the riders depart the following morning to Sicily, where the race will continue for 18 more stages, and conclude in Rome.
My purpose in bringing this grandiose event to Israel was twofold. Firstly, to invite a billion sports fans to see my beautiful country, and learn about how open, tolerant, inclusive, pluralistic, free, and safe Israel is. This will encourage tourism, including bike tourism, and generally provide a first hand, eye witness, unfiltered view of Israel, that is sometimes misunderstood due to unidimensional media coverage.
The second goal that I have, in conjunction with my co-ownership (with my fabulous partner Ron Baron) of the Israel Cycling Academy team, is to promote cycling in my country and encourage Israel’s arrival as a true cycling nation. Residents will see our ICA riders racing in cycling’s second-biggest race, and enjoy the sport’s finest athletes racing by their homes. Parents, choosing a sport for their children, after the excitement of the Giro, may buy their child a bike, and, by the example of our Israeli ICA riders, know that there is a path to aspire to see them rise to the highest level of the sport.
Israel, although modern and progressive, is a developing cycling nation, and the Giro, ICA, and the soon to be completed cycling velodrome, the first in the Middle East, are testaments to our emergence. The bicycle path network is being expanded constantly, and our cities will soon emulate Amsterdam…in the Middle East.
Fans of cycling, the Giro, and ICA, I encourage you to come out to watch next month and cheer for the home team, ICA. It will be a gigantic, exciting, fantastic party not to be missed, the centerpiece of Israel’s 70th birthday celebrations.
Israel Cycling Academy co-owner Sylvan Adams came to the sport as a participant, having taken up bike racing at age 41 as an age group Masters racer in Canada, where he lived until emigrating to Israel in 2015. Despite this late start, Sylvan’s accomplishments include six Canadian Masters titles, four Pan American golds, and two World Champion titles. More recently, Sylvan also won the Israeli Masters national championship, in his new country.
Sylvan is responsible for bringing the Big Start of the 2018 Giro d’Italia to Israel, the first time a Grand Tour will race outside of Europe, and as such, was named the Honourary Chairman of Giro 2018 Grande Partenza.
But most of all, Sylvan enjoys riding with the team on training rides and being “one of the boys,” or has he describes it, he is “rider #25” on ICA.