Shortened Tour d’Israel to set off Monday

The first ever Tour d’Israel, a week-long bicycle race from the north to Eilat, will get going on Monday despite earlier cancellation threats.
The event has been shortened from five to four days after a monetary compromise was reached with the police over traffic control costs that nearly derailed the inaugural race just days before it was scheduled to start.
“We will start in Kfar Giladi on Monday,” said Yaron Michaeli, a spokesman for the tour.
“We’re not doing the first day from Nahariya to the Hermon to Kiryat Shmona.”
Last week, the police threatened to withhold their permission for the race to proceed unless they were paid a total of NIS 214,000 two days before the tour was scheduled to begin.
After prolonged negotiations, the two sides agreed to cut the price along with the first day of the race, which was originally supposed to begin on Sunday.
Michaeli emphasized that the Tour d’Israel is unique from a number of other weeklong bike rides that take place around the country throughout the year. Unlike many of them, the Tour d’Israel is not meant to raise money from donations for various causes.
“Above all else, it’s a race,” Michaeli said. “It is the first-ever such race in Israel and the goal is for it to become a tradition. If this year we have 44 participants from outside of Israel, next year we want 80.”
In total, 124 riders are registered to participate in the 622-kilometer event, and they will compete in pairs.
The slower member of each pair will have their time recorded for each daily segment.
There are nine total racing categories arranged by age and gender, and $40,000 worth of prizes available for the top finishers.
Michaeli also noted that one of the goals is to attract competitive bikers from around the world. Some Americans and British are coming, but most of the foreigners hail from Belgium, Germany, and Holland.  Italy, South Africa, and Switzerland are also represented on the roster.
Participants will sleep in hotels, hostels, and field schools in Nazareth, Ein Bokek, and Mitzpe Ramon along the route. The tour finishes on Thursday in Eilat.
Now that a settlement has been reached with the police, the organizersand riders are anxious for the competition to begin and excited aboutparticipating in a groundbreaking event for Israel.
“People pay money in order to participate, and they compete to win aprize,” Michaeli said. “It’s different from what we’ve had before. There’s never been anything like this in Israel.”