The team’s top talent, most decorated winner, and veteran leader agreed to extend contracts
Krists Neilands, Mikhel Raim and Zak Dempster will continue their career in the Israeli team
Neilands: “I rejected offers from World Tour teams to stay with Academy”
Raim: “We have a perfect marriage. Why should I break it?”
Australian Zak Dempster extended his contract
Tel Aviv. July 3, 2018.
Israel Cycling Academy has moved swiftly to keep its prized and most successful riders at bay, announcing it had already struck agreements with Latvian Krists Neilands, Estonian Mikhel Raim and Australian Zak Dempster – to stay with the team next season.
The team hierarchy is viewing this move as a reflection and reassurance of its commitment to keep the momentum of rapid growth and success of the team. This year, the first-ever Israeli professional team has raced in its first grand tour – the Giro D’italia – and it’s now moving to lay the foundation for “a stronger year” described by team owner Sylvan Adams – as it Eyes a Tour De France debut by 2020.
Mr. Adams said: “Despite ICA’s historic achievements at the halfway point of the 2018 season, we are already planning for next year. To that end, we are already re-signing the team’s core group of riders including Zak, Krists, and Miku. The latter two were originally Neo – Pros, and have been nurtured in ICA into budding stars for the team. We will be even stronger and more experienced next year and I am proud of our riders and the team we have built”.
The riders expressed the same confidence in the team’s commitment to further build on its success. “This team just keeps growing and improving and I have no doubt that it will continue doing so, and I want to be part of it its bright future,“ said Mikhel Raim, the team’s most successful rider to date with 12 UCI victories under his belt.
Latvian Krists Neilands who just secured his country’s second consecutive Road Champion title has revealed that he actually rejected a few very tempting offers. “I got offers from big teams, from World Tour teams, and I had sleepless nights before I decided to reject them and say “Yes” to my ICA team and stay another year,” he said.
Krists, who joined Academy in 2017 has shown stable progress in his first season but had a breakout first half of the 2018 season. His now-famous attack on the Poggio in Milano San Remo and just a few weeks ago – a breathtaking solo escape win in the Belgian semi Classic Dwars Door Het Hageland, put a stamp on his status as a world top uprising talent.
“I had a tough dilemma and It was a really hard decision,“ admitted Neilands who signed for a one-year extension. “But eventually I made my mind to stay. I saw how this team treated me, how it patiently enabled me to take my time to progress and treated me like family while doing so. And here I am getting an opportunity to
race in bigger and bigger races – and get a chance to fight for the win while in big teams I will have to work for other riders.”
The new Estonian champion Mikhel Raim who signed for two more seasons (his 4th and 5th) and is ICA’s greatest winner – said that his decision was rather easy: “ICA and ai are enjoying a perfect marriage so why break it? I became a much better rider during the development of the team, and I have no doubt that we will continue this way for years to come and will together get to the top of pro cycling.“
Australian Zak Dempster also accepted the offer to stay as the team veteran leader that earned him the nickname “Mr. Reliable” for his ability to lead the young riders by example and always deliver solid results. “It’s a team in which I can really be myself,” he said. “ I made some good steps and can now start to target winning in one-day races”.
Team Pro manager Kjell Carlstrom: “I am delighted that they decided to accept our offers to stay with the team. It benefits both sides greatly. Krists is a great talent.
That said, he also is a smart rider with both feet on the ground. Miku is a winner type and Zak brings consistent performances and leadership. For us, the fact that they decided to continue with us is a recognition that we are doing things the right way. We are committed to continue with our greatest assets intact and keep on our with the process to achieve our goals”.