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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