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Israeli youngsters to feature for ICA team at Giro d’Italia

The Israel Cycling Academy has confirmed it will start the historic Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem next week with a pair of Israeli riders in a line-up which includes both experienced and young cyclists.

    Guy Sagiv is relishing his debut at the Giro d'Italia. (Photo: Bettini)
    Guy Sagiv is relishing his debut at the Giro d'Italia. (Photo: Bettini)

    Guy Sagiv, 23, and Guy Niv, 24, will set the milestone of being the first Israeli riders to race a Grand Tour.

    They will be joined at the Giro by Italian Kristian Sbaragli, Australian Zak Dempster, Latvian national champion Krists Neilands, former Canadian national champion Guillaume Boivin, Belgian Ben Hermans and Spaniard Ruben Plaza.

    Team Manager Kjell Carlström acknowledged that the decision to bring young Israeli riders shows their support for Israel cycling. “The ICA has made changing the landscape of cycling in Israel its main priority," he explained. "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 in the race and winning a stage would be the icing on the cake.”

    Team co-owner Sylvan Adams expressed his support for the team’s line-up. “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.”

    Team co-owner Ron Baron admitted he was thrilled that the team was realising their ambitious goal of racing a Grand Tour - and in Israel. “I still need to rub my eyes to believe that this is all really happening," he said.

    "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 d’Italia.

    "The selection of two young Israeli riders should send a strong signal to the next generation of cyclists in Israel and worldwide that with hard work, their dreams can come true.”

    Making his Grand Tour debut at 23, 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 cyclist. “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 at the Giro.”

    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.”

    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, decided to concentrate on road cycling after he began to race with Israel Cycling Academy’s development team in 2017.

    He 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 the last 24 hours. I am very proud that the team is putting their trust in me. Selecting Sagiv and me shows Israel and the world that Israel is truly becoming a cycling country with riders taking the sport seriously and achieving their dreams. But beyond this, I believe that I can make it to the last stage in Rome. I see myself at the finish line there!”

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