Eilat (Israel) (AFP) - A group of cyclists have embarked on a multi-day tour in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories as part of an effort to promote peace in the Middle East.
Around a dozen riders are part of the five-day event, intended to promote and preview the main race set for March 2018, which will follow a similar course but will also include part of Egypt.
The tour began on Monday in the Jordanian capital Amman, with the cyclists set to reach Jerusalem on Friday after having crossed southern Israel and part of the occupied West Bank.
"I believe that sport worldwide has a very strong voice, a very positive voice, and a very direct voice, and let's say a simple voice," said Gerhard Schoenbacher, the Austrian director of the tour.
"It's not as complicated as politics and religion."
The aim of next year's main event is to encourage peace initiatives in the region, according to organisers.
"We fight each other in the race, but after the race you're friends again, and in the race you're good colleagues," said Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten.
"So I think maybe that atmosphere, it's good maybe to bring it to the Middle East," she said.