Organizers for the Giro d’Italia have announced, that Pope Francis has been invited to the start of next year’s Italian Grand Tour in Israel.
According to an article in the Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, the head of the Israel Cycling Academy, Sylvan Adams, met with Pope Francis and presented him with a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking the head of the Catholic Church to honor the race with a public blessing in Jerusalem.
The Catholic church has always maintained a close relationship with professional cycling, especially since 1950, when the Giro d’Italia finished in Rome.
Since then, several Popes have blessed the start of the race over the decades, with 2000 being the most memorable when Pope John Paul II was joined by cycling luminaries Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Mario Cipollini and Marco Pantani at a pre-race celebration.
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