They were right there, battling for the victory in the final of the unique eRace on Independence Day: Guy Sagiv, Omer Lahav, Yuval Ben Mosche and Itamar Einhorn. And although the victory in this Independence Day Spectacle Race went to an Australian virtual racing monster, the Israeli riders captured four positions in the top-11 in the race rankings.
Israel Start-Up Nation celebrated the Israeli Independence Day by racing with its full teams on the Zwift virtual racing platform and organizing a massive group ride afterwards for fans and followers. The race was live broadcasted by the Israeli Channel 5, a scoop in the Israeli media landscape as it was the very first time is history that eRacing/eGaming was broadcasted on national television channels.
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That was a proper spectacle. That was a proper race. The ISN Independence Day Spectacle gave us what we dreamed for: an exciting race with a well-deserved winner. Top 10: . 1. @freddyovett. 2. @the_bovino. 3. @jamespiccoli. 4. @omerlahav_. 5. @1guysagiv1. 6. @danmartin86. 7. @neilandskrists. 8. @acataford. 9. @dorieneekhout. 10. @yuval_benmoshe. . #zwift @gozwift @elite_cycling #gozwift #eracing #egaming #indoorcycling #raceday.
With the live-broadcast in their minds, the Israeli WorldTour and Continental riders stood before an enormous challenge. Racing against their teammates, including stars like Andre Greipel, Dan Martin and Alex Dowsett, would not be a piece of cake.
However, it is safe to say that the Israeli riders, divided into two teams (the Israeli national team and the Israel Cycling Academy team for this event), showed will-power and their racing abilities. Directly from the start of the 28-kilometer race, riders like Omer Goldstein and Guy Niv were in front and in the final the front group was dominated by Israeli flags.
Israel Cycling Academy-rider Omer Lahav was Israel’s top finisher in the Spectacle, with a fourth place. After the race, he said he was super proud of the performances of his fellow countrymen. “We were really a part of the race, and were able to dictate the game. I personally enjoyed seeing that”, he said.
Israeli Road Race champion Guy Sagiv was the second-best performer with a fifth spot. “I had difficulties adapting to indoor training here in Gerona where I am currently staying. Training indoors was simply not as fun as riding outdoors and mentally I found it sometimes difficult to train for many hours per week. However, I turned the switch in my mind, especially when I heard we would be racing against each other on Zwift. When I also heard the national television would broadcast our race live, for hundred of thousands of people, I got really motivated. I went full gas in the race and enjoyed it a lot.”
Also Itamar Einhorn, who wrote Israeli cycling history in Colombia earlier this year by taking the very first Israeli podium in a professional cycling race, got morale after hearing Channel 5 would broadcast the Independence Day Spectacle live. “I wanted to show my fitness, especially knowing that so many people would watch this scoop live on such an important day for our country.”
Irish climbing goat Dan Martin saw a very motivated group of Israeli riders in-game as well. “They put on a good show and it was good to see that everyone’s fitness levels are high. Both the Israeli riders, as well as all my other teammates have clearly been working hard at home to be ready for when the racing starts again”, he said from altitude in Andorra where he took sixth in the race.
“I think the race looked good on television and it was a whole lot of fun to be part of it. I was cooked in the end, as eRacing is definitely something different than racing on the road.”
The four Israeli riders in the top-11 had to agree with Martin that eRacing is quite a bit different than racing on the road. Lahav, Israel’s top finisher in the Spectacle: “The more one races, the more experience one gets with the different tactics in-game.” No wonder that Israel Cycling Academy rider Freddy Ovett, who has been using the virtual racing application for more than 100 hours over the last few weeks in lockdown, won the race in the end.