Israel will host the first three stages of the 2018 Giro d'Italia ©Getty Images

Jerusalem has been confirmed as the host of the opening stage of the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

The Grand Tour race will begin with a 10.1 kilometre individual time trial on May 4, with the route centred around the Old City.

It will be the first of three stages to be held in Israel, with the second stage featuring a 167km course from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

Racing in the country will conclude with a 226km third stage from Be'er Sheva to Eilat, located by the Red Sea.

"Every year the Giro tells the stories of places of great interest," said Mauro Vegni, Giro d'Italia director. 

"Cities such as Jerusalem, with the initial individual time trial, Tel Aviv, with the finish on the seafront, the starts from Haifa and Be’er Sheva, Eilat and the Red Sea, are part of this philosophy.

"The territories crossed by the stages in Israel will show to the world tradition, culture and beautiful landscape.

"We will see spectacular stages, that will surprise both from a sporting perspective and from the landscape point of view.

"I am convinced the welcome for the Corsa Rosa - as we have already seen in the previous big starts abroad - will be really special."

Organisers said the start in Israel will see Italy's Gino Bartali remembered, with the three-time winner of the race awarded the country's "Righteous Among the Nations" honour in 2013.

The honour recognises non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Bartali was found to have couriered false documents around Italy during the Second World War, which saved the lives of numerous Jewish people.

Italian and Israeli officials confirmed the race will remember Gino Bartali ©Getty Images
Italian and Israeli officials confirmed the race will remember Gino Bartali ©Getty Images

The Italian, a two-time winner of the Tour de France, has had his name engraved on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous in the Yad Vashem Memorial, which is located in Jerusalem.

"The start from Jerusalem is a metaphorical bridge between our two lands, made up of history, culture and traditions," said Luca Lotti, the Italian Sports Minister.

"There is another aspect that makes me particularly proud: the fact that this edition of the Giro d'Italia will celebrate the memory of the great Gino Bartali.

"It is beautiful that he is remembered right here in Jerusalem because the great 'Ginettaccio' - as he was named by his fans and all his fellow sportsmen who loved and followed him - was not just a great champion of sport.

"He was also an extraordinary champion of life, and a man of heroic virtues, and this need to be commemorated, and shared, especially with the younger generations, never to be forgotten."

It will be the first time the Giro d’Italia has began in Asia, although Israel is officially a member of the European Cycling Union.

To allow for minimum disruption to the riders, there will be a rest day after the stages in Israel to let cyclists head to Italy.

It is the 13th time the three week stage race will begin outside of Italy, with suggestions the race will draw to its conclusion in Vatican City.

The Netherlands' Tom Dumoulin is the defending champion, with the Team Sunweb rider and time trial world champion securing his maiden Grand Tour success earlier this year.