While both Israel Start-Up Nation and Chris Froome hope they will take a yellow jersey at a future Tour de France having announced their impending coming together earlier this week, it was their Continental rider Freddy Ovett who will go down as having taken the team’s first-ever Tour victory, albeit on virtual roads.
The 26-year-old Australian, who is also the son of British Olympian Steve Ovett, has already come close in the virtual Tour, finishing runner-up on stage two last weekend. This time around he went one better, leading a reduced bunch over the line on stage four, beating Michael Valgren (NTT) and compatriot Nick Schultz (Mitchelton-Scott) to stage honours.
Surrounded by two of his presumably biggest fans for the Zwift race, Ovett was waiting in the post-race press conference for a question about a rider he looks up to, Chris Froome, sharing a story about his own personal experience of the four-time Tour champion.
“It’s fantastic, isn’t it? He’s the biggest rider in the world. And someone I personally look up to,” Ovett says, having exchanged a smile with his off-camera minder when the inevitable Froome question came up in the post-race press conference.
“I had a fantastic experience a few years ago when I got to do a training ride with him, just one-on-one, he probably doesn’t remember that,” Ovett reveals. “But I certainly do. And he’s a fantastic guy. I was just a young kid in my first year cycling four years ago. And he was nice enough to let me go and do a ride with him for four hours. And for someone who was just starting out in the sport, it was quite a moment. I think it says a lot about a guy who would do something like that. And that sort of personifies him for me.
“So when I heard that he was coming in, it was extremely exciting and huge for Israel, huge for the team. And yeah, you know, we’re excited to see what he can do and how we can learn off someone who’s arguably one of the greatest cyclists of all time.”
Ovett is hoping to benefit from the new rules introduced that allow for him to step up from the Continental ranks to ride for the team’s WorldTour outfit when called upon, and he hopes to make it to the top tier to ride alongside Froome at some point in the future.
“I’m just trying to prove myself out on the road, I’m still relatively new to cycling and I appreciate that and [Israel Start-Up Nation] are trying to sort of nurture me and convert my talent into not just virtual results but hopefully real-life results,” Ovett said.
“I understand it’s going to be a bit of a journey but I’m in it for the long haul and I think the team are as well. Hopefully, I can step up to the WorldTour team full-time at some point and ride alongside Chris and Dan Martin and the great riders on the team.”