Vuelta a España 2021 concluded this Sunday with an individual time trial to Santiago de Compostela. Israel Start-Up Nation finished the race with three riders, after a crash-marred edition of the Spanish Grand Tour.
ISN started out the race with big ambitions but after suffering a series of bad crashes, seeing no less than five riders abandon the race, the final week of the Vuelta was all about surviving and making it though.
In the end, Sebastian Berwick (21), James Piccoli (30), and Guy Niv (27) were the three riders to make it all the way to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela. For Berwick, this was his first-ever Grand Tour, while Piccoli now has two Grand Tours under his belt. For Niv, the Vuelta was the second Grand Tour the strong Israeli did this year, after also finishing the Giro d’Italia.
Sebastian Berwick: “The highlight of my Vuelta was getting into the breakaway on stage 12. That was a pretty cool experience for my first Grand Tour. Unfortunately, we had many low points with all the crashes. The whole last week has been a big struggle for me and I’m pretty happy to have made it through this Vuelta. Despite losing five riders, we always kept the morale high and I’m proud of being part of this group.”
James Piccoli: “Despite all our bad luck, it was amazing to see how our staff and all the people around us always worked so hard and helped us keep the atmosphere good. That and having my family visit during these last days and have them seeing me race in Europe for the first time were the big highlights for me. In terms of results, I expected more of myself but that’s how bike racing goes sometimes.”
Guy Niv: “The most memorable moment for me was stage 15 where I managed to bridge across and be part of a super strong breakaway on a hard mountain stage and still stay with the GC riders after we got caught. I’m also really proud of Itamar [Einhorn] who did a very impressive first Grand Tour. He was always there in the sprint stages and I’m proud to have helped him during these days. Losing five riders was not easy for us and this was not our best race but we gave our best and kept fighting all the way towards the end.”
Sports director, Oscar Guerrero: “One important thing that I will remember this Vuelta for is the eagerness and determination the riders showed at the beginning of the race. Without a GC captain it was an open race for everybody so all our riders felt that this was their big opportunity. Unfortunately, we were very unlucky with all the crashes but the guys never gave up and this shows a lot of character and is something we can build on for the future.”