The Israel Cycling Academy Continental team is about to take the start in the Volta a Portugal, a ten-day stage race from Lisbon to Viseu.
The Volta a Portugal is one of the biggest races the Continental team can compete in and has an extraordinary number of race days: ten. For most of ICA’s riders in Portugal, it will be the first time racing so many consecutive days.
“Yes,” Oded Kogut, one of the selected Israeli riders says, “ten days in a row is definitely going to be a challenge. For me, it’s a big step, as I have never raced so many consecutive days before.”
But the 20-year-old is excited to race the Volta a Portugal. “It is my biggest race so far. I am especially looking forward to the short prologue and the last individual time trial.”
Ben Moshe as road captain
One of the other Israelis on the team, Yuval Ben Moshe, shares Kogut’s sentiment about the biggest race in his career. He is selected as the road captain in the team, after having gained experience from his WorldTour-team-companions earlier this year in Hungary.
“I will try to help everyone as much as I can, and in the meantime better learn myself how to read a race. I hope I can grow in my responsible role throughout the race and do a good job,” Ben Moshe says.
Upped training volume
ICA’s sports director Zak Dempster thinks that spending energy wisely will be a key to success. “The Volta a Portugal is a famous race, mostly because of its difficulty. For the whole team, it will be a great opportunity to take a big step forward in their development.”
In order to be optimally prepared, Israel Cycling Academy gradually intensified their training over the last two seasons, and especially in the last months with a training camp and several races.
Sports director Cherie Pridham says that having a few races will do them well in Portugal: “The guys are ready for a tough, ten-day stage race like this. The intense training should leave them prepared.”
Mackellar: “We can be one of the stronger teams”
Mason Hollyman, who wore the young classification jersey in the GP Torres Vedras last month, Alastair Mackellar, stage winner in that same Portuguese race, and Riley Pickrell are ICA’s non-Israeli forces for the Volta a Portugal.
Mackellar, having had an up in Torres Vedras with a victory and a down with a crash on the last day, says he is particularly eager to race stages 4 and 6. “These two stages look punchy: hard rolling days that would most likely bring a reduced bunch to the line. I expect bigger, WorldTour and Pro Conti teams to control, just like in Torres Vedras, however, I think we could have a chance those days.”
Hollyman agrees with him: “I think the whole team prepared very well for this one. We had a team camp and put some good work in together. Torres Vedras and the Vuelta Castilla y Leon were perfect preparation races for going into this race. A successful race for us would be podiuming in a stage and also being up there in the GC.”
Zak Dempster and Cherie Pridham agree: “Top-10 in the GC, a podium, and having everyone through to the finish will be a great boost for Israel Cycling Academy, the team, and for everyone’s development and their futures.”
- Yuval Ben Moshe
- Edo Goldstein
- Riley Pickrell
- Oded Kogut
- Mason Hollyman
- Saned Abu Fares
- Alastair Mackellar
Sports directors: Cherie Pridham and Zak Dempster
— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com