Cycling - Cycling: Giro d'Italia to start in Israel in 2018: ministry

Netherlands' Tom Dumoulin (C) and the peloton cross the finish line of the 17th stage of the 100th Giro d'Italia, Tour of Italy, cycling race from Tirano to Canazei on May 24, 2017. (AFP Photo/Luk BENIES)

- The Giro d'Italia is to begin in Israel in 2018, the first time one of cycling's three major races has started outside Europe, the country's sport ministry said. "We are proud to host in Israel any international competition and of course the Giro, which is an important competition with the world's best riders," a spokesman for Israeli sports minister Miri Regev told AFP. Hosting the race's start will mark a major sporting coup for Israel and provide it with an opportunity to promote its tourism industry in a year when it also celebrates 70 years since the country's creation. However, it also risks protests surrounding the event over its 50-year occupation of Palestinian territory.