Calling it “a historic moment for Israeli sports and a great honor,” Israel’s first ever professional team, Israel Cycling Academy, has accepted an invitation to participate in the Giro d’Italia, one of the world’s most prestigious cycling events, scheduled to begin in Jerusalem on May 4.“Israel Cycling Academy earned this selection with our excellent team, including seasoned riders who have secured victories in two of the three Grand Tours,” stated the team’s co-owner Sylvan Adams, who is also the Honorary President of the Giro’s “Big Start” in Israel. “We now expect to add a stage win in this year’s Giro and to place a team leader high on the GC [General Classification of overall leaders].These are our goals in this year’s Giro and we wish to thank the race organizer RCS for this opportunity.”The 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia opens with three stages traversing Israel, marking the first time a Grand Tour has ever left Europe. The race will see 176 of the world’s top cyclists begin the competition against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City. That will be followed by road stages between Haifa and Tel Aviv (167 km) and Beersheba and Eilat (226 km). The race will then head back to southern Italy.Team founder and co-owner Ron Baron stressed the importance of the team’s selection for the Giro, both to Israel and to Israeli cycling.“Our dream, almost unthinkable only three years ago when we launched the team, is now coming true. A professional team with world class Israeli riders alongside the finest international talents all under the Israeli flag, racing with pride in a Grand Tour. I encourage all our fans from Israel and around the world to support the team as it makes history.”To be competitive, Israel Cycling Academy has significantly strengthened its roster. “The first step was already taken by adding eight riders and forming a team of 24, including riders with a proven record of victories in Grand Tours,” explained Israel Cycling Academy team director Kjell Carlstrom. “But the most important thing will be getting the guys to race at a high standard in hard races to get used to the speed expected. The next three months of racing will help us to select our race strategy in the Giro, as well as the riders.”The squad’s early season racing calendar includes debuts in World Tour races such as the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Volta a Catalunya, before returning to classic Giro preparation races like the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the Vuelta a Andalucia.