Israel Cycling Academy rider Ruben Plaza.
(photo credit: ICA)
Israel Cycling Academy completed on Sunday its final preparation races ahead of the historic Giro d’Italia that gets under way in Jerusalem next Friday, May 4.
After ICA’s Ruben Plaza won the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain and the team’s representatives ended the Tour of Croatia in Zagreb, ICA’s professional staff will turn its focus over the coming days to selecting the final four riders for the eight-man squad that will compete in the Giro.
An announcement regarding the final squad is expected on Wednesday.
Eight riders were shortlisted last week for the four remaining berths in the Giro lineup, including Israelis Guy Niv and Guy Sagiv, with at least one of them set to take part in the Grand Tour, 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.
The four riders to have already booked their spots are Krists Neilands, Ben Hermans, Plaza and Guillaume Boivin.
Only one Israeli is likely to appear on the final squad, but both Niv and Sagiv believe they deserve a place in the Giro. Sagiv was very consistent throughout the six days of the Tour of Croatia, while Niv impressed in the fifth and final day of the Tour of the Alps on Friday when he was part of the eight-rider breakaway.
ICA’s Belgian rider Ben Hermans ended the race in 13th place overall, 4:34 minutes back of French winner Thibaut Pinot, with Tour de France champion Chris Froome finishing in fourth.
“I think that I proved that I deserve to be in the Giro,” said Niv.
“But I will accept any decision, although if I don’t make it, it won’t be easy to deal with for a few good days.”
Meanwhile, Plaza ended the three-stage Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in first place overall on Sunday after winning the final stage in Avila.
Plaza leapfrogged into first position after finishing 46 seconds ahead of his main rivals in the third stage. ICA’s Estonian rider Mihkel Raim won the second stage of the race on Saturday.
Despite the win, Raim is not set to be part of the squad for the Giro.