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Israel's 'Big Start' a resounding success at Giro d'Italia

Sylvan Adams described the Giro d’Italia ‘Big Start’ as a resounding success after the race reached its climax in southern Israel, as the 175 riders from 22 teams raced towards the finish line in the country’s southernmost city, Eilat. It was the closing chapter of an historic three days, during which cycling has captured the Israeli public imagination.

    Celebrations at the finish line of the Big Start in Israel. (Photo: Number10Strategies)
    Celebrations at the finish line of the Big Start in Israel. (Photo: Number10Strategies)

    The event started  against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s iconic Old City on a 10.1km time-trial tour of the city. Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands crossed the line in first place, 37 seconds ahead of England's Chris Froome.

    Italian rider Elia Viviani took centre stage on day two, over 167km, as tens of thousands of fans watched the riders depart Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, before moving through Acre, Zichron Yaacov, Caesaria, Netanya and Tel Aviv, where the largest crowd received the cyclists.

    Viviani maintained top form on stage three, starting from Beer Sheva before taking in southern Israel’s dramatic scenery, including the Ramon Crater. The riders were cheered along the 226km route by groups of local supporters, with many having prepared visual displays on the roadside in pink, continuing the Israeli public’s enthusiastic embrace of the Giro d’italia.

    Having led much of stage two from Haifa to Tel Aviv, Israel Cycling Academy’s Guillaume Boivin once again hit the front of the race early on, narrowly missing out on the King of the Mountains blue jersey on a day when the riders were aided by a strong winds.

    Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) won in a bunch sprint Stage Three, with Sacha Modolo (Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale) and Sam Bennett (Bora - Hansgrohe) finished second and third respectively.

    Big Start  Honorary President of Big Start Israel Sylvan Adams said: "I thought we reached the pinnacle, with the team presentations and gala opening party in Jerusalem. But the time trial in Jerusalem was simply magical, as the helicopter footage of this historic and splendid city, lined with cheering fans, took it up another level.

    "This race has exceeded my expectations. Israelis are the greatest fans in the world. Even the Italians told me that they hadn't seen crowds and energy like this before.

    "For me, Israel has already won this race, as it afforded hundreds of millions of spectators to see our beautiful country, and feel the warmth of our people, bearing witness that Israel has a diverse, open, free and safe county. This was a Giro d'Israel, a three-day tour around our special country."

    The Big Start in Israel is the first time that any of cycling’s three Grand Tour races - the Giro, the Tour de France or the Vuelta a Espana - has been held outside Europe.

    Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) remains the race General Classification leader, wearing the Maglia Rosa. Dennis said that the crowd “took to the race very well, it is almost as if they were a really big cycling country.”

    Further details in this week's JC.

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