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ICA ON THE RISE: Volta a Portugal “school” ended with high marks

When you are an Under-23 Continental team facing one of the toughest tests in racing and end up with a stage WIN, a 2nd place podium in another, many breakaways, and you reach the finish line with almost your full squad intact, it’s a first-rate encouraging sign that your boys are on the right track.

That is the story of the six Israel Cycling Academy “kids” (the seventh, Israeli Yuval Ben Moshe crashed and had to abandon) who surpassed all our expectations. Actually, here is the most revealing fact: the last three times the PRO TEAM raced in Volta a Portugal, they were never able to secure a win. “These kids certainly stepped up,” said ICA boss, Zak Dempster.

The young ICA team was directed by ISN’s sports director Cherie Pridham. She had praiseful words:

“We came to the Volta a Portugal under no illusions since it would be our riders’ hardest race in their young careers. We created a team spirit from day one, we worked together as one, and we never stopped believing.

“We took the biggest win for ICA with Mason Hollyman winning stage 6. An incredible day and one we won’t forget. Then, in less than 24 hours, we went close again, with Alastair taking a super 2nd [place finish]. Everyone played a part in a fantastic two weeks.”

For the three Israelis (Edo Goldstein, Oded Kogut, and Samed Abu Fares), those 10 days were like a boot camp. “I never imagined that I would go so deep in a race,” admitted Edo Goldstein. “And I am happy that I did not face any crises.”

For Israeli sprinter, Oded Kogut, it was the first serious stage race he faced, and the fact that he was able to overcome a pure mountain race was a source of great satisfaction. “I certainly moved up a level,” he said.

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Road captain Ben Moshe leads ICA through nervous first stage in Portugal

Israeli rider Yuval Ben Moshe is one of the most experienced riders in the Israel Cycling Academy formation racing the next ten days in Portugal. Thus, the 22-year-old is the road captain in the #VPSantander21 – it’s a role he enjoys and is good at.

“It was nice”, Ben Moshe would say after the stage. “I always try to do my best to give good calls about what I see during the race.”

In the first stage (after yesterday’s prologue), Ben Moshe took the important role upon himself and carried it out to the liking of sports director Cherie Pridham. “Yuval did a good job today”, she said. “It was a nervous stage with a lot of motivated riders who battled for positions in front of the bunch to avoid possible splits during crosswind sections.”

According to the British DS, Ben Moshe gave good information via the race radio, was positive, motivated his teammates and kept the team together during important moments in the race. “I saw a confident Yuval today, who took his role seriously and carried it out very well.”

Ben Moshe himself enjoyed having the responsibility. The Israeli and his teammates led team leader Mason Hollyman into the final climb in a good position. The Brit showed himself when he made a few moves, and finished solidly in the bunch.

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

ICA ready for big Portuguese challenge: ten days of high-level racing

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