The 2018 Giro d’Italia kicked off on Friday, May 4, with a short and sharp individual time trial stage in Jerusalem – the first time that any of the three Grand Tours have ever started outside Europe.

Totalling just 9.7 kilometres, the route is a technical one peppered with short hills and tricky turns. It will be a hard stage for riders to gauge their efforts, and will require power and skill to navigate quickly.

Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) goes into the race as defending champion, and also as world time trial champion and ranks among the favourites to claim the opening stage victory as well as the final overall victory.

>>> Giro d’Italia 2018: Latest news, reports and race info

His biggest rival for the coveted maglia rosa of overall race leader in 2018 is Briton Chris Froome (Team Sky), also well known for his ability against the clock.

The general classification duo will go up against time trial specialists such as Rohan Dennis (BMC), Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin), Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) for the early stage win.

Stage two of the race takes place on Saturday, May 5, with a relatively flat stage from Haifa to Tel Aviv covering 167 kilometres. On paper, it’s a stage that should suit the sprinters.

The 2018 Giro d’Italia concludes on Sunday, May 27, in Rome after three weeks of racing.