Two road stages plus a time trial likely to form Giro opening ahead of transfer to Italy
The plan is for a Giro big start based around the holy city of Jerusalem. After a possible time trial to kick off the race on May 5, it would continue with two road stages, one to the south, and one possibly ending in Tel Aviv.
RCS Sport organised a Jerusalem sportive ride in 2013 with an estimated 1,500 cyclists so it has the connections and experience. It has previously organised its big starts as far afield as Belfast and Herning Denmark, but never has the Italian tour or any grand tour gone outside of Europe for its start.
Even if the Giro restarts in the south of Italy, the caravan would face a six-hour flight from Tel Aviv. As with recent editions of the Giro d’Italia, an extra travel rest day is expected to soften the journey.
RCS Sport Cycling Director Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly during this year’s race that previous experience had laid the groundwork for such a trip.
“Now, we are able to duplicate it and it’s not as hard, so I’m not worried about 2018,” Vegni said. “I can confront anything, also far away from Italy’s borders.”
Money will come from Israel, which is pushing hard to grow its tourism sector. It would need an estimated £10 million (€12m) budget, with around €4 million going directly to the organiser for the hosting rights.
The Giro d’Italia celebrated its 100th edition in 2017 with a ‘Made in Italy’ route that travelled the two big islands, Sardinia and Sicily, and most of the boot of Italy before finishing in Milan. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) became the first Dutchman to win the grand tour following a dramatic last-day time trial.
Organiser RCS is planning an ending nearly as big as its Jerusalem beginning. Like the Tour often does with its end of race transfer, RCS wants to put the riders on the Freccia Rossa high-speed train from the Alps to finish in the capital city of Rome on May 27. The plan is to have the two religious capitals bookend the 2018 Giro.