ICA completes its roster for the historic Giro in a surprise move.
Guy Niv & Guy Sagiv chosen to be the first Israeli riders in a Grand Tour.
Team Manager Kjell Carlström: Sagiv and Niv selected for “their continuous improvement, their proven mental grit, and the backing of their teammates”.
Tel Aviv. April 25, 2018.
Israel Cycling Academy will start the historic Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem next week with a pair of Israeli riders in its lineup which includes both experienced and young riders.
The decision taken by the first Israeli team to ever start a Grand Tour means that both Guy Sagiv (23) and Guy Niv (24) will set the milestone of being the first Israeli riders to race a Grand Tour.
Joining them at the Giro will be Italian Kristian Sbaragli, Australian Zak Dempster, Latvian national champion Krists Neilands, former Canadian national champion Guillaume Boivin, Belgian Ben Hermans, and Spaniard Ruben Plaza.
Plaza, the most decorated rider in the team and who just won the Vuelta a Castilla y León over the weekend, said, “We have a wonderful and incredibly motivated team going to Jerusalem. We are making history for Israel and for all of us. I have no doubt, it will be a huge challenge to succeed in winning a stage but I am proud and excited to race with this group and battle the odds.”
The team acknowledged their decision to bring two young Israeli riders is a dramatic and somewhat surprising one. Team Manager Kjell Carlström explained, “Israel Cycling Academy has made changing the landscape of cycling in Israel its main priority. This is who we are and we all support this goal. It’s the reason this team was founded. While Sagiv and Niv have both progressed tremendously, bringing them to a Grand Tour already is definitely risky. Sure, we could have gone with a stronger team to the Giro, but we know that between their continuous improvements, their proven mental grit and the backing of their teammates, they will do everything to make it through. More than that, they will help us. I am proud of this decision and confident we are sending a balanced, experienced, and versatile team. We are all motivated to succeed and that means making an impact on the race and winning a stage would be the icing on the cake.”
Team co-owner Sylvan Adams expressed his support with the team’s lineup. “The Giro squad was selected with the objective of picking the best eight men to achieve our specific goals in our first Grand Tour. I am particularly proud that two Israeli riders made the cut on pure merit, in furtherance of our team goals. This means that our development program is working. It would have been an unthinkable dream just a couple of years ago to place an Israeli in a Grand Tour and now we have two. I am very proud of our team and wish the riders luck and success in this historic Giro which begins on home soil.”
Ron Baron, team co-owner, is thrilled that the team is realizing their ambitious goal of racing a Grand Tour and in Israel no less. “I still need to rub my eyes to believe that this is all really happening. The dream of our young team founded less than four years ago is actually coming true as we are presenting a competitive squad of riders to race under the Israeli flag in the Giro De Italy. The selection of two young Israeli riders should send a strong signal to the next generation of riders in Israel and worldwide that with hard work, their dreams can come true.”
Making his Grand Tour debut at 23, Guy Sagiv, from Givat Nili, is currently in his third year as a professional cyclist. The two-time former Israeli national champion (2015 and 2016) is a reliable and hardworking domestique. “He is a solid rider,” said Carlström. “He has shown that we can always count on him to be an asset for the team. He deserves his place in the Giro.”
Guy Sagiv said, “I am so honored to be selected and I believe I have earned this. Now I am focusing on only one thing: helping my teammates. This is my role and I will do everything I can to support our squad.”
Israeli Guy Niv has improved the most this season. A full-time mountain biker just a year ago, the 24-year-old climber from Misgav in northern Israel, he decided to concentrate on road cycling after he began to race with Israel Cycling Academy’s development team in 2017. He just barely finished the first stage at the 2017 Tour of Utah, but he has since made enormous strides. “Nobody in this team has made so much progress in such a short time,” said Carlström. Last week it was Niv who rode aggressively in the challenging Tour of the Alps and even dared a solo attack on the descent towards the end of the final stage. “The Giro will be extremely tough on him, especially the flat and windy stages,” admitted Carlström. “But Guy has an iron will and such a strong character that we believe he can overcome it. He is courageous and has come so far that we felt he deserved the chance. This is in line with the Academy’s DNA.”
Niv said, “I was so relieved to get selected. I was so stressed waiting for the last 24 hours. I am very proud that the team is putting their trust in me. Selecting Sagiv and I shows Israel and the world that Israel is truly becoming a cycling country with riders taking the sport seriously and achieve their dreams. But beyond this, I believe that I can make it to the last stage in Rome. I see myself in the finish line there!”
The team management selected the team based on their goal of winning a stage in its typically aggressive style of racing. This approach has historically earned Israel Cycling Academy most of its wins, which is why a sprinter was named to the lineup. Kristian Sbaragli was chosen for his ability to win selective sprints. “He is versatile and experienced,” said Carlström. “We believe he is up to the task and motivated to represent Italy for us in the Giro.”
Zak Dempster was a consensus selection as the Australian has been extraordinarily reliable in the team with both earning results and leading his young teammates. Carlström stated, “Zak is a great asset, no question about it. We have a great squad for the Giro: one that will leave a mark, inspire the next generation of cyclists in Israel and beyond, and make all our fans in Israel and across the world proud of us.”
Israel Cycling Academy’s Giro riders and staff will arrive in Israel on April 30th and will train in the Jerusalem Mountains as their final preparations for the Giro. On May 1st, the team will hold its official Giro press conference in the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem (16:00) following a training session in the mountains that will be open to the press. The team owners, riders, and staff will be present and available for interviews. The following day, the team will conclude their training session by riding to Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center for a special ceremony at 14:00 to pay tribute to Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali who saved Jews in WWII by smuggling documents in his bike.
For access to the team activities and media coverage prior to the Giro, please contact Press Officer Kathryn Ezra (firstname.lastname@example.org, +34 689 961 506) or Media Director Tsadok Yecheskeli (email@example.com, +972 52 555 8320).
- Guillaume Boivin (28, Canada) is a two-time former Canadian national champion. A versatile sprinter, Guillaume is valuable in both breakaways and the leading out his teammates.
- Zak Dempster (30, Australia) is a trusted road captain who can intuitively read a race situation.
- Ben Hermans (31, Belgium) brings years of World Tour experience to the squad. He has already achieved a handful of top ten results so far in 2018.
- Krists Neilands (23, Latvia) is an all-rounder who excels at climbing. The cycling world took note of Krists at Milano-Sanremo this year when he launched a late attack on the Poggio, to which only Vincenzo Nibali could respond.
- Guy Niv (24, Israel) is a climber who also loves pushing the descents.
- Ruben Plaza (38, Spain) is an experienced rider with wins in both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Most recently, he claimed the final stage and overall at the Vuelta a Castilla y León.
- Guy Sagiv (23, Israel) is a dedicated teammate and an all-rounder.
- Kristian Sbaragli (27, Italy) has a Vuelta a España stage win to his name so the sprinter to aim for another Grand Tour stage win.
- Edwin Avila (28, Colombia)
- August Jensen (26, Norway)