‚Giromania‘ hits Israel as ‚Big Start‘ unfolds

Public and race organisers hail historic opening two days

TEL AVIV, 5 MAY 2018 – The Israeli public, plus race organisers have welcomed the success of the opening two days of the Giro d’Italia’s ‘Big Start’ in Israel. The first day on Friday saw a 9.7km Individual Time Trial in Jerusalem, while on the second day the 176 competitors covered 167km from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

Honorary President of ‘Big Start’ Israel Sylvan Adams said it went “flawlessly,” adding “I was filled with pride as I saw my countrymen, women and children line the streets to cheer for the racers, especially those from the home team, Israel Cycling Academy. The TV images of magnificent Israel were breathtaking. The Italian organizers, RCS, were simply in awe of how well it went, including the enormously positive media coverage around the world.”

Stage 1

Many thousands of Israelis lined the ancient streets of Jerusalem on Friday as the riders set off individually near the iconic Jaffa Gate, passing landmarks including the Knesset (parliament) and Supreme Court. The biggest cheers were reserved for local riders Guy Niv and Guy Sagiv, who made history as the first Israelis to compete in a Grand Tour, on behalf of Israel Cycling Academy.

Sagiv commented, “I felt the ground tremble when I started… It was an experience I’ve never had before. I started and all the crowd was cheering for me along the whole course.”

Niv added, “Any time I had pain or fatigue in my legs, I just looked to the sides and felt the crowd pushing for me and cheering for me and suddenly I could push harder. It was an amazing experience.”

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The crowd was treated to an exciting spectacle, with current Giro holder, Dutch star Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb, taking the first stage with the final ride of the day. His time of 12:02 was two seconds faster than Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing.

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Sylvan Adams and Tom Demoulin

Demoulin was awarded the first Maglia Rosa of the 101st Giro d’Italia, against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City. Afterwards, Demoulin said, “Jerusalem helped me, I loved these streets… This is an exciting city with a special culture. The crowds were amazing for a country that isn’t so aware of the sport.”

Stage 2

The second day of the race got underway in the northern city of Haifa, Israel’s third largest. The riders were again welcomed enthusiastically by tens of thousands of Israelis lining the streets. Many had prepared special displays and visual spectacles along the scenic route, in order to mark the occasion.

For much of the race, Israel Cycling Academy’s Guillaume Boivin was in the lead, to the joy of the home crowd. However, Boivin was eventually caught by the Pelaton, leading to a bunch sprint finish along the Tel Aviv sea-front promenade. Italian Elia Viviani of Quick-Step Floors came out on top, winning the stage. Israel Cycling Academy’s Guy Sagiv eventually finished an impressive 35th in the stage.

Viviani said, “The thing that surprised me the most were the people in Israel. Fantastic fans, a lot of people on the roads… that is definitely what I will take home with me.”

Australia’s Rohan Dennis is – after two stages – the current race leader. Dennis commented after the race, “sometimes other countries are quiet, but here the crowds were huge… it’s really a special feeling.”

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The Giro d’Italia, which takes place annually in Italy over 21 stages during a three-week period, is watched by hundreds of millions of viewers in 194 countries. The 2018 race will be the 101st edition of the Giro. Since 2006, the Giro has commenced every other year with a high-profile ‘Big Start’ outside Italy. Previous ‘Big Starts’ have brought the excitement of the Giro to Holland, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Belgium. The ‘Big Start’ in Israel will be 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.

· For more information about the Giro d’Italia, please visit www.giroditalia.it/eng/

– Day One will see riders begin the race against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s iconic Old City on a 10.1km time-trial tour of the city.

– Day Two begins at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, then passing through historic Acre and Caesarea, before riders head to the finish line on Tel Aviv’s beachside promenade, totalling 167km.

– Day Three begins in Beer Sheva and takes in southern Israel’s most dramatic scenery including the breathtaking Ramon Crater, finishing at the Red Sea resort of Eilat, totalling 226km.

Start-Up Nation Central

Israel is a technological innovation and entrepreneurial powerhouse. This includes entrepreneurial innovation in sports. Start-Up Nation Central, an Israel-based non-profit serving as a gateway to Israeli innovation, is the Giro’s partner for everything Israeli tech, and will run three Sports-Tech exhibition spaces right next to the media centers at The Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem, The Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv, and the finish line at Charles Clore Park.

Start-Up Nation Central would be happy to help with stories if you need. Please be in touch with Amir Mizroch, amir.mizroch@sncentral.org or +972 (0) 50 9989338