The world’s best cyclists will take part in the final leg of the Israel stage of the Giro d’Italia bike race on Sunday, sprinting the 226 kilometers between the historic desert city of Beersheva and the southernmost port city of Eilat.
Kicking off at 12:30 p.m., the Beersheva-Eilat stage is the final portion of the race to take place in Israel. On Friday, cyclists performed a 10-kilometer (about six miles) time trial in Jerusalem. Saturday, competitors raced along Israel’s coastal plain from Haifa to Tel Aviv.
In the second stage, Italian Elia Viviani won with a time of 3:51:20, with Italian Jakub Mareczko and Ireland’s Sam Bennett just behind in second and third places. Israel’s Kristian Sbaragli grabbed 12th place, with Guy Sagiv finishing 35th and Guy Niv finishing 122nd, prior to Sunday’s stage through Israel’s expansive Negev Desert.
This is the first time that Israel has hosted the 101-year-old race, and the first time that the Giro has ever taken place outside of Europe. Reports indicate that Israel was given the unique honor of hosting the event due to the earnest advocacy of Sylvan Adams, a Canadian-Israeli cycling enthusiast who hoped both to promote cycling in Israel, as well as to dispel the myth that Israel is besieged by conflict and to showcase it in honor of its 70th anniversary of independence.
Police said that 4,000 officers were involved in securing the three-day event, as well as special security and border police. Tens of thousands of visitors were expected in relation to the event, with the three stages broadcast on television internationally. Among the many nations represented were also competitors for the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
At the conclusion of the Sunday stage, nearly 1,000 people and three cargo planes will leave Israel and continue on to the next leg of the race in Sicily.