07 May 2018

Riding For The Maglia Rosa In The Land Of Milk And Honey

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
shehecheyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu laz'man hazeh.

That's about the extent of my Hebrew.  Actually, it's a bit more than I really know.

So what's it doing on this blog?

Well, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my brother's DNA test shows that we are about 3 percent Jewish.  (I can pretty safely assume we inherited the same genetic material.)  Nor does it have to do with my proximity to Orthodox and Hasidic neighborhoods.  Or my ex.

Rather, it has to do with something that was, until Friday, unprecedented: The Giro d'Italia began--you guessed it--in Israel.  

Like the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, most of the Giro takes place in the country for which it's named.  Sometimes a stage, or part of one, will venture into a neighboring country.  When that happens, it's likely an Alpine stage and the riders will find themselves pedaling through passes or up mountains in France, Switzerland or Austria.

Moreover, every other year, the Giro opens outside of Italy.  So, in that sense, Friday's prologue wasn't so unusual, except for one thing:  It was held outside the European continent.

(I made a point of saying "the European continent".  Some argue that Israel is essentially a part of Europe, given its population and culture.  Not having been there, I won't argue about it.)

Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin won the 9.7 km time trial in Jerusalem that comprised the Giro's opening round.  Thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch. More than a few, like Simona Maor, admitted they hadn't heard of the Giro until Friday--although Maor says she knew about the Tour de France.

The Giro continued in Israel over the weekend.  The 167 km second stage, won by Italian Elia Viviani, began in Haifa and ended by the sea in Tel Aviv.  Then he broke out of a bunch sprint to take yesterday's 229km stage through the Negev Desert from Be'er Sheva to Eilat.

To him, Dumoulin and all of the other riders, I say מזל טוב!  That means "Bravo!", more or less!

(By the way, the blessing at the beginning of this post translates roughly as:

O praise to you, Eternal God, sovereign of all:
for giving us life, sustaining us and enabling us to reach this season.)

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