Israel’s only professional cycling team, Israel Cycling Academy, enjoyed an ‘historic day’ at the Tirreno-Adriatico race – which saw one of its cyclists beat Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
Producing an impressive and surprisingly aggressive performance at the Italian race, one of the most significant World Tour races, the Israel Cycling Academy has now, for three stages in a row, led breakaways from the Pelaton (race pack), accumulating more than 560km at the head of the race. During the first stage, Israeli rider Guy Sagiv led the breakaway. Sagiv was already making history as the first Israeli cyclist to participate in a World Tour race (the highest level of professional cycling).
The Israel Cycling Academy’s remarkable display culminated yesterday (Saturday) in the fourth stage of the race – known as the ‘Queen’ stage – a 219 km climb into the Apennine Mountains. Academy riders spearheaded the breakaway group of the race and then sent one of its best riders, Belgian cyclist Ben Hermans to an onslaught on the final mountain finish. Incredibly, Hermans was able to beat some of the greatest climbers in the world including Tour de France winner Chris Froome, eventually finishing fifth.
“It might be Israel Cycling Academy’s best performance ever” said team Chief Sports Director Kjell Carlstrom. “We are certainly stepping up and showing constantly we deserve the chance to fight with the best”.
The team’s performance is seen as a rehearsal for the historic Giro d’Italia (one of three prestigious ‘Grand Tour’ races, also including the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana), which will start in Jerusalem on 4 May, as part of a three-day ‘Big Start’ in Israel. It will be the first time an Israeli team has competed in a Grand Tour event and the first time such a race has been held outside Europe.