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Internationally Renowned Cycling Race Is Coming to Jerusalem

The Giro d’Italia, one of the world’s three most important races, will kick off in Israel’s capital next year, but the security costs are sky-high

Sophie Aroesty
August 08, 2017
Wikimedia Commons
Giro d'Italia 2009 Cyclists during 9th stage in MilanWikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Giro d'Italia 2009 Cyclists during 9th stage in MilanWikimedia Commons

Here’s some trivia for you. What 2018 event do you think could top the list of Biggest Security Operations For The State of Israel?

Hint: It’s going to be bigger than when Pope Francis visited in 2014, when 8,000 police watched over mobs as he drove by. (Which, by the way, wasn’t in a bulletproof glass-protected vehicle, but in an open-top jeep, to be closer to the people). It’s also going to be bigger than Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral, attended by the likes of Jordanian King Hussein, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and U.S. President Bill Clinton, which had 10,000 police and soldiers standing guard.

Stop guessing. You’re wrong, and you’ll never figure out what it is.

The event that’s going to be the biggest security operation for Israel ever will be—drumroll please—a bicycle race, according to Cyclingnews.

The 2018 Giro d’Italia, a century-old Italian cycling competition that draws athletes from all over the world, will start in Israel, Cycling Weekly first reported. The first of the competition’s 21 stages—day long segments that occur over a 23-day period—will likely be a timed-trial in Jerusalem on May 5. The next two will also be in Israel, though locations have yet to be confirmed. Tel Aviv and a southern city are probable candidates.

The Giro d’Italia is one of three prestigious international cycling races that make up the Grand Tour, along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. The 2017 race, the 100th Giro ever, drew 219 cyclists from 32 countries, and swarms curious spectators.

The historic competition celebrates Italy, touring through its beautiful countryside and cosmopolitan cities. No international locale ever hosted the start of the race until 1965. And even since then, only 12 cities have had the honor. The last start of the Giro outside of Italy was in 2016, in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. Jerusalem will be the first city to ever host the race outside of Europe.

The owners of the race, RCS Sport, are expected to officially announce the location of the 2018 Giro on Sept. 18 in Jerusalem. The decision was largely thanks to the Israel Cycling Academy, a UCI Pro Continental team with the aim of bringing Israeli cyclists to the international stage. They’ve worked for years with RCS to make Israel a host of the race. Their efforts were backed by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the Academy’s main partners of 2017.

“We believe that cycling has a unique ability to reach people through emotion and entertainment,” said Israeli Ministry of Tourism Director-General, Amir Halevi. “The decision to team up with Israel Cycling Academy was therefore natural for us. We share multiple values with the first Israeli Pro Cycling Team and we see their athletes and management as great ambassadors of our campaign.”

Cyclingnews reported that Israel will be responsible for security for the event, and will likely shoulder “a significant part of the total cost” of hosting. Cycling Weekly estimated that the budget for the event will be €12m million, or about $13 million, and that more than $4 million of that would go “directly to the organiser [sic] for the hosting rights.” Former Giro director Angelo Zomegnan once explained why cities pay so much to host, saying, “The amount is quickly absorbed because the Giro d’Italia leaves the city with at least 10 times its investment.”

Move over, Pope Francis. For shekels like that, we’d be pedaling—or peddling—just the same.

Sophie Aroesty is an editorial intern at Tablet.