The Giro d'Italia is due to start in Jerusalem for the first time ©Getty Images

International Cycling Union (UCI) President David Lappartient hopes a Giro d’Italia starting in Jerusalem next month will help drive peace through sport in a similar way to this year’s Winter Olympic Games on the Korean Peninsula.

The awarding of the first three stages of the race to Israel, starting with an individual time trial in Jerusalem on May 4, has been billed as the first time it has begun outside Europe since it was first held in 1909.

Lappartient admitted, though, that the awarding has been fraught with security and political challenges.

The UCI are not responsible for the awarding of the event, only for the timeline, but the Frenchman has nonetheless faced social media criticism for the choice of hosts.

"First of all, this is not a decision of the UCI, but of the organisers, we are not involved in this," he told insidethegames here at the SportAccord Summit.

"We gave the dates but afterwards it is up to the organiser to decide where to go.

"But we hope that cycling can be a way to promote peace in sport, like the Olympic Games in Korea, that was good.

"I think this is the way we want to see the event.

"To have the countries all together and to bring on the sport in Israel, that is nice."

There has been more conflict in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks ©Getty Images
There has been more conflict in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks ©Getty Images

North Korea’s surprise announcement at the beginning of the year that they planned to participate in this year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang led to International Olympic Committee-mediated discussions with the South.

The two countries marched together at the Opening Ceremony and, for the first time ever, participated jointly in a women’s ice hockey team.

Lappartient revealed that the year’s first Grand Tour was awarded last year just three weeks before the announcement of Donald Trump’s United States Administration that they planned to relocate the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"This was before the fight we are having on the border with Gaza," he said.

"This was at the moment when they launched the Giro in West Jerusalem.

"Now they are saying 'it is not West Jerusalem, it is Jerusalem’ - that’s also another issue."

The participation of reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome is another cloud hanging over the event.

An investigation into a positive drugs test last year and is not expected to be finished until after the race, meaning the British Team Sky rider could be free to compete.

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