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Giro Stage 1: Holy Roller

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Short Jerusalem time trial kicks off Israel Start

Jerusalem Formula Peace Road Show Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Stage 1: Jerusalem ITT, 9.7km

Don’t call it a prologue... Friday’s opening stage kicks off the festivities in the most famous city in the world.

What’s It About?

A short time trial, meant to separate out the GC, Young Rider and I guess points competitions. [No KOM points on offer this day.] Not really much to say about it. At under 10km its results probably won’t make a difference in the final result in Rome, but I guess you never know.

Course Details

Mappa:

And the Profile:

This is not a power course; it’s an undulating, turning course on variable surfaces (although not the beastly cobbles of the Old CIty). It’s obviously short and the features will keep the time gaps down, maybe.

The main backdrop will be the Old City, occupied since the second century when it was laid out by Emperor Hadrian of Rome. It’s less than a square kilometer in size, but constituted the entire city until it began to expand in 1860 with the founding of a market outside its walls. It’s the Mother of all UNESCO sites, being both ancient and holy on numerous levels. The panorama is dominated by the Dome of the Rock, a/k/a Al-Aqsa Mosque, situated on the Temple Mount (one of many small hills in the modern city), and visited by Muhammad during the Night Journey, a detour on the Prophet’s migration from Medina to Mecca.

One of the walls containing the Mosque is a remnant from the Second Jewish Temple, built by King Herod to function as the center of Judaism until destroyed by Roman armies in 70 CE. The Western Wall, a/k/a Wailing Wall for people mourning the Temple’s destruction, is the holiest site in Judaism, though that’s a bit of a low bar since Jews don’t have a lot of fixed holy sites by major religion standards.

Stroll through the center of the city and you will come across Via Dolorosa, where you can trace the Actual Stations of the Cross, not the metaphorical Tour of Flanders version. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built at the end of the walk and is said to encompass Calvary, a/k/a Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. There’s a stone slab where his body was laid out. Needless to say, this is among if not the very holiest site in Christianity.

The city is divided into Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Armenian and Moroccan quarters, though the populations are not exactly segregated and the only restricted places are the Western Wall (where you just have to go thru security) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (where non-Muslims aren’t welcomed most of the time). You could walk from one end to the other in a couple minutes if by some miracle it wasn’t completely clogged with tourists. The stage runs from just outside the Jaffa Gate to just outside the Damascus Gate, and will take less time than is required to get a Turkish coffee inside the city. But will the stage be as delicious? Tune in Friday!

Did You Know?

Uh... that Jerusalem is kind of a big deal? That it’s really old? I mean, Jerusalem is so old...

HOW OLD IS IT?

Jerusalem is so old, that it was built by proto-Canaanites 6000 years ago out of pounded dirt, because rocks had not been invented yet. The proto-Canaanites were an early species of human who were known for working really hard and staring down at their power sun dials all the time. They were overthrown by the Egyptians when it was discovered that they had used advanced tools to construct the city without first obtaining a TUE.

Jerusalem has been conquered 44 times by the Egyptians, Judeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, early Muslim Caliphates, Seljuks, Crusaders, Ottomans, Brits, Tibetans, Neo-Antarcticans, and the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. Now it’s embroiled in yet another political struggle over its control. Somehow it’s only been completely destroyed twice. If nothing else, Jerusalem is resilient.

Whom Does It Favor?

The race’s two biggest stars are Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin, winners of all of last year’s grand tours, and it’s not much of a coincidence that the race kicks off with the one discipline in which those two have a clear advantage over their GC rivals. A good way to get people interested, both by the roadside and watching at home. Jos van Emden, Vasil Kiryienka, Tony Martin and Rohan Dennis are the usual suspects when it comes to the discipline, but in a short and quirky course you are likely to see some surprising names on the top ten.

AmyBC’s Wine Pairing

Recanati Wild Carignan

Really, I could have chosen one of several wines from this winery that I was lucky enough to taste at a recent luncheon. But the Wild Carginan really stood out to me.

Pick to Win

Tom Dumoulin. I think he’s motivated, and he knows he needs every second he can find.