Guy Niv and Guy Sagiv will become the first Israeli riders to take part in any of cycling’s three Grand Tours after they were named in the Israel Cycling Academy line-up for the Giro d’Italia which starts in Jerusalem on May 4.
The two Israeli’s are part of the team’s eight-rider squad for the race, which will likely rally around former BMC Racing rider Ben Hermans and recent Vuelta a Castilla y Leon winner Ruben Plaza in the mountains, and Kristian Sbaragli, who has five top 10 stage finishes at the Giro in the past, in the sprints.
Completing the squad are Zak Dempster, Latvian national champion Krists Neilands, and Guillaume Boivin, with former Team Sky rider Kjell Carlström, the team’s sports director for the race, acknowledging that taking the two inexperienced Israelis to the race was something of a risk.
“While Sagiv and Niv have both progressed tremendously, bringing them to a Grand Tour already is definitely risky,” Carlström said. “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.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2018 key stages
As well as the two Israeli riders, the team had also intended to name Muslim rider Ahmet Orken in their Giro line-up, a highly symbolic move give tensions between Jews and Muslims in the region. However this plan could not come to fruition after Orken quit the team in December after US president Donald Trump took the decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The Giro d’Italia will begin with three stages in Israel, starting with a 9.7km time trial around the streets of West Jerusalem on May 4, before two road stages which are likely to end in bunch sprints.
The riders will then get a rest day to travel to Italy on May 7, before resuming with the fourth stage in the Sicilian city of Catania.