With four US stops already on the calendar, the Giro d’Italia Gran Fondo series is expanding to Jerusalem and Beverly Hills.
The series is organized by RCS Sport, owner of pro events like the Giro d’Italia and Milan-San Remo. This year the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia series features six worldwide destinations in 2013 including Monterey, New York, Pasadena, Jerusalem, Beverly Hills and Miami. It is the upcoming two fall events that are among those that are truly leaving a mark in the “big ride” events.
The Gran Fondo event in Jerusalem will take place on Friday, October 11 and promises to be the very first Italian-themed cycling event of its kind in the Holy City. This will include three courses that will allow riders to experience the history and archeology of the Jerusalem. The main 127km ride will feature 3,000 meters of vertical gain, while the medium course of 85km offers 2,400 meters of climbing. Each of these will take riders around the mountains of the city promising views of some of the most famous sights. The shorter 20km route is also included for families, children and casual riders.
“The idea of the Gran Fondo in Jerusalem came to me after talking with a guy name Shay Rishoni, a cyclist and triathlete from Israel,” explained Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia organizer Matteo Gerevini. “He loves Italy and the Italian culture, and so the idea of an ‘Italian themed’ event to promote the city of Jerusalem was a great opportunity.”
Given the recent strife in the region, organizing such an event has not been without its challenges. This event has been in the planning stages since March of 2012, and only now have the organizers finally decided to go forward with it.
One problem to overcome is that the Holy City, while several thousands of years old, isn’t exactly one that was designed with bikes in mind.
“Israel is not a real ‘cycling country,’ but there is a lot of riders and people that love cycling and it is a growing sport,” added Gerevini.
Another challenge was that Shay, who would otherwise be the ideal person to organize the event, suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and his health issues have left him unable to do much of the planning. To this end the organizers called in help from Aitor Azpiazu, an avid Spanish cyclist who now resides in Israel, and Ran Margaliot, a former Israeli pro cyclist from the Saxo Bank team. Without their help this event might still be just a concept.
“They are partners in the company Ozone Mediterraneo that will be the local organization that will work with us,” Gerevini told BikeRadar. “The event will raise money for the research against ALS, and I think that the story of Shay is really a great and inspirational story.”
To ensure safety for the riders, the first 20km will be in the City of Jerusalem, and offer a one-of-a-kind tour of the Holy City tour with police escort at a controlled speed. The participants of the Gran Fondo will be out in front and the organizers say they expect between 1,500 to 2,000 riders, with another 2,000 to as many as 3,000 taking part just in the city portion.
“At the end of the 20K the Gran Fondo will leave Jerusalem and go out in the mountains for two courses of 85 and 127km, and then back to the City,” Gerevini said. “Security for the participants is not a problem because the area is very safe, and also the traffic will be very low and we will have a full police support on route.”
“We are very happy to have here in Jerusalem an event that is part of the international series Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia,” said Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem. “The Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Jerusalem will be for sure a great success, because we have a great location and a great route to make international participants happy to be here. Jerusalem is a special place, and we will be supporting this special event to make it one of the flagship events of our city for years to come.”
Were this the final ride in the series the event would be notable, but for 2013 the organizers are heading back to Beverly Hills for the final event this season, which will take place on Sunday, November 3. This ride will kick-off on the Rodeo Drive, before heading out to two routes – 50 and 85 miles – throughout Beverly Hills and surrounding mountainous areas, with timed climbs to bring every rider a fun challenge.
“Beverly Hills is a unique destination. The event of two years ago was very well perceived, and this year will be also much better, with an high end location for the expo, a pasta party in the top restaurant of the Montage and of course the spectacular start in rodeo drive,” said Gerevini. “We are planning a different way back from the canon to have a safer road for the riders compare with two years ago.”
With these two events still yet to come Gerevini and the organizers are already thinking of ways to top it next year. This won’t include any new destinations in the United States, but could offer even more exotic locales around the world.
“We are planning other events for the next years in special destination, where riders can enjoy the ride itself and also the area, similar to what we do for place like Beverly Hills, Miami and New York,” he added. “We are working in something probably in Ireland, Sweden and Brazil, besides several other requests that we have received, but we consider any location with a lot of attention before we decide to organize our Gran Fondo.”