Israeli rider Guy Sagiv..
(photo credit: NOA AMON)
An Israeli rider will compete in one of cycling’s three Grand Tour’s for the first time ever when the Giro d’Italia gets under way in Jerusalem next Friday.
The identity of that cyclist will finally be revealed on Wednesday, when Team Israel Cycling Academy announces its final eight-man squad for the prestigious race, that continues following the opening day with road stages between Haifa and Tel Aviv (167 km) and Beersheba and Eilat (226 km) before heading to southern Italy.
While both Guy Sagiv and Guy Niv could potentially make the lineup, only one of them is expected to be on the team, with ICA officials facing an excruciating decision after both impressed in the build-up to the Giro.
Eight riders were shortlisted two weeks ago for the four remaining berths in ICA’s roster.
The four riders to have already booked their spots are Krists Neilands, Ben Hermans, Ruben Plaza and Guillaume Boivin.
Sagiv and Niv, who will receive a phone call to inform them of the news on Wednesday, competed on Tuesday evening in a short 1.52km climb up to Zikhron Ya’akov which will also be part of the second stage of the Giro next Saturday.
The 23-year-old Sagiv, a native of Givat Nili, a moshav near Zikhron Ya’akov, had initially seemed like the favorite to be ICA’s top Israeli rider. He showed why with a remarkable performance at the Milan-San Remo “Monument” classic last month, being part of the lead group for 250 kilometers before it was pulled in by the peloton.
Sagiv also rode consistently well throughout the six days of the Tour of Croatia which ended on Sunday.
But the 24-year-old Niv, a native of kibbutz Misgav Am in the Upper Galilee in northern Israel, has surprised everyone with his form this season after only making the switch from mountain biking to road racing last year.
Niv proved he is ready to compete with the best in the fifth and final day of the Tour of the Alps last Friday when he was part of the eight-rider breakaway.
Niv understands he has the disadvantage of having focused on mountain biking up until a year ago, but he still believes he will make the team.
“I really believe in my abilities. Obviously, I lack experience. I still need to learn a lot about racing in a peloton, but I try to learn from every race in which I compete and not make the same mistake twice,” he told The Jerusalem Post
“I have no qualms about saying that I’m the best Israeli climber and ultimately the Giro is a race with many climbs. A rider who can overcome the climbs and stay with the leaders can be a great asset to the team and that is what I’m counting on."