The official presentation of the 2018 Giro d'Italia start is still four days off, but the open secret that it will have its first ever start outside of Europe in Jerusalem has been confirmed by the Israeli sports minister and local organisers.
Cyclingnews previously reported on the start in Israel, with plans rumoured for a time trial in Jerusalem's Old City for the opening stage, and possible visits to Tel Aviv and the southern part of the country.
Daniel Benaim, the CEO of the local organisers, Comtec Group, the Giro's Israeli production company, confirmed the news to the Associated Press. "This is a hugely exciting moment for cycling and for Israel," Benaim said. "An event of this magnitude is something that the country will always remember."
The AFP reported that the race will finish in the Vatican City with the theme of co-existence and peace.
Former Giro d'Italia winners Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso are expected to be among those assembled at the official announcement in Jerusalem on September 18.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the announcement and course details.
Another foreign start for the Italian race could be on tap, with the Welsh government negotiating with Giro d'Italia owners RCS Sport to host the race.
"We are continuing the very positive discussions with RCS about hosting the Giro d'Italia," a government spokesperson told BBC Sport Wales after representatives from RCS Sport were in attendance at the Tour of Britain finish in Cardiff. "This visit was an excellent opportunity to showcase Wales, to start building relationships."
Wales has been attempting to bring one of the sport's Grand Tours to the region, meeting with the ASO only to be told there were no near-term opportunities to host the Tour de France.
"We have made clear our ambition to host a future Grand Tour event," the Welsh Government spokesperson told the BBC. "In recent years we have made contact with the owners of all three events and have been keen to explore options."
The Tour de France started in Yorkshire in 2014, London hosted the Grand Depart in 2007 and Ireland held stages in 1998. But the Giro d'Italia has only recently begun to branch out more regularly, starting outside Italy in every second year since 2010, including a start in Belfast in 2014. The 2018 start in Jerusalem will be its 13th foreign start, and its first outside Europe in its 101-year history.
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