“I barely remember how racing feels anymore” – Carson Miles.
Israel Cycling Academy (re)launches season in Poland
Racing Dookola Masowsza is under strict corona regulations
DS Dempster: “Stage win and top-3 in GC is the goal”
Benjamin Perry: “We will have to be focused every day”
It has been a long time. Yes, we have done plenty of racing activities on virtual platforms (we are not even done with them yet), but outdoor competitions is something pretty much everyone who loves the sport of cycling has been looking forward to. Lucky continental riders from Israel Cycling Academy: They are re(launching) their season this Wednesday, in Poland, under strict corona regulations.
Carson Miles, Benjamin Perry, Daniel Turek, Freddy Ovett, Robin Plamondon and Israeli Lahav Davidzon have been it to the line-up for Dookola Masowsza (Dookola from now on) and will compete in a race that will be extremely hard to predict.
“It’s the first race back for basically the whole bunch, so we need to expect the unexpected”, Zak Dempster, director sportive in Poland, says, “It’ll be a peloton full of opportunists and that plays right into our hands with the roster we have here.”
It is the first race of the Israel Cycling Academy since the corona-outbreak. Racing in the ‘new normality’ brings many challenges for soigneurs, mechanics and the riders. “We will have to keep 1,5 meter distance as much as possible”, says Dempster. “We wear masks when needed and live in our own ‘bubble’. We limit contact with people outside the bubble as much as possible.”
It basically means riders eat in their own hotel rooms, staff members as well. ICA cooks its own dinner to limit the time spent in restaurants. Also the surfaces from the cars, busses and even the bikes are regularly cleaned.
‘We will see aggressive racing’
Although pretty much all of the stages seem to suit sprinters (on paper), the Australian former professional with Academy does not expect only bunch finishes. “Weather conditions, and the wind, might play a vital role in this week’s stage race. Given the fact that many riders, also us, will be so excited to race again, I think we will see aggressive racing, split up bunches and different race scenarios every day.”
Benjamin Perry, somehow back in his home country as he has polish roots, therefore hopes to see himself or his teammates in front every day. “We will have to race aggressively too”, the Canadian says about his ‘home race’. “The breakaway of the day can be established at every moment and as ICA is aiming for a top-3 in the GC and a stage win, we will have to be focused every day from the first kilometer.”
Dookola also has a short time trial (stage 2), in which small but maybe vital changes for the GC can be made. “We are prepared for that and brought our Factor SLiCK TT-bikes”, Dempster says.
Freddy Ovett is felt good on his tt-bike lately and is looking forward to trying something we do not get to do very often, a 2.2km ITT. “It is a very flat and technical race. It is a nice way to get started again.”
Lahav Davidzon made it out of Israel to Poland and will be the Israeli rider in Dookola and the Czech rider Daniel Turek is also at the start line.
Canadian Carson Miles has not raced for nearly a year and ‘barely remembers how it feels like’. “I only seem to remember races from when I was a kid, and not specifically from this or last year”, he laughs. “It is so good to be back!” Robin Plamondon makes the number of riders in the line-up six.
Obviously racing will be different in these ‘post-corona times’. According to Dempster it is clear what the peloton can and cannot do during the new-racing-normality’. “We will follow up on the rules set by the UCI strictly. We will not risk anything and will be very careful with all actions we do as a team. Riders’ and staff’s health, as well as the health of the people that host us, have the highest priority.”
– Carson Miles (Carson Miles)
– Benjamin Perry (Benjamin Perry)
– Freddy Ovett (Freddy Ovett)
– Robin Plamandon (Robin Plamondon)
– Lahav Davidzon (Lahav Dvidzon)
– Daniel Turek (Daniel Turek)
Text and photos: Sjors Beukeboom.