Sports Minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin quickly threatened to back away from their partnership with the race if the wording did not change.
By ALLON SINAIUpdated: DECEMBER 1, 2017 01:39
A day after presenting the venue of the opening stage in next year’s Giro d’Italia as West Jerusalem, and following threats by the Israeli government to cancel its financial backing, the organizers of the race quickly backtracked and have begun referring to the site of Stage 1 as Jerusalem once more.During the presentation of the “Big Start” routes for the Giro in Jerusalem back in September, the venue of the 9.7-kilometer opening time-trial stage was listed as Jerusalem. However, when the entire route for the 2018 edition of the prestigious race was officially presented in Italy on Wednesday, the host city of the first stage was unexpectedly listed as “West Jerusalem.”Sports Minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin quickly threatened to back away from their partnership with the race if the wording did not change, saying: “In Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, there is no east or west.There is one unified Jerusalem.”The Honorary President of the “Big Start,” Sylvan Adams, who is providing a substantial part of the financial backing required to host the first three stages of the race in Israel, said he was “shocked, and frankly deeply offended” when he watched the official presentation.“As Honorary President of ‘Big Start Israel’, I made it clear to our Italian counterparts that this was totally unacceptable,” he said on Thursday. “Just as there is no such city as ‘West Rome’, or ‘West Paris’, neither is there a city named ‘West Jerusalem’. As a result of those conversations, the Giro d’Italia organizers have now removed all such erroneous references, and assured us that this will not be repeated.“We are all excited to be hosting the opening party and first stage of this historic 101st edition of the Giro in our national Capital, the magnificent city of Jerusalem. Together with the other two stages being raced in Israel, a billion people will have the opportunity to view a large portion of our beautiful country.”AdvertisementRegev and Levin thanked the Giro’s organizers for their quick response.“We are pleased to see the prompt reaction of the organizers in removing the name ‘west Jerusalem’ from their official announcements,” they said in a statement. “We welcome the agreement between Ministry of Culture and Sport CEO, Mr. Yossi Sharabi, and the Giro organizers.According to the organizers, the Giro organizers will arrive in Israel in the coming days to make final preparations so the race will go as planned, from the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate, and throughout the city of Jerusalem.”RCS Sport, which is in charge of organizing the race, also released a clarification.“RCS Sport would like to clarify that the start of the Giro d’Italia 2018 will take place from the city of Jerusalem,” read the press release.This is the first time one of cycling’s three Grand Tours will venture outside Europe, with Jerusalem being the most southerly starting point ever used.Stage 1, which will be held on May 4, 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.No appearance fee for Froome Also, four-time Tour de France winner Britain’s Chris Froome confirmed on Thursday that he will attempt to become the first rider to claim the Giro d’Italia/ Tour de France double for 20 years.Italian great Marco Pantani was the last man to achieve the feat in 1998. Froome won the Tour de France for the fourth time in five years in July before going on to become the first Briton to claim victory in the Vuelta. If he wins the Giro he would be only the third rider to hold all three Grand Tour titles at once.Giro organizers denied reports Froome received an appearance fee.“We spoke to Froome and Team Sky but only about sporting desire. There was never a relationship based on economics.It was about motivation,” Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni Vegni told Cyclingnews and Velonews.“A start fee for Froome? I flatly deny that. Suggestions like that in the media create problems for us with other riders.”