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Rally Cycling riders and staff close the book on 2021 – Rally Cycling

It’s been an incredible year for the team. From Arvid de Kleijn’s Tour of Turkey lunge to Olivia Ray’s Lion’s Den surge, our riders have criss-crossed the globe on two wheels, navigated an ever-changing pandemic-hit landscape and shared plenty of experiences along the way.

Before we make the transition to Human Powered Health™, we asked a selection of our riders and staff about their 2021 seasons, their most memorable moments, the lessons they learned, and how the team helped them to realize their ambition.

Olivia Ray

After a season-threatening crash in Spain, Ray bounced back and dominated the criteriums.

I’m most proud of my comeback. As much as my ankle break was faster than expected to recover from, I had a rough time getting over it. Once I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, it was worth the pain and tears to get back to what’s important, the team and racing. 

The one thing that I learned, that I hope someone else can take from this is that it always gets easier, they will ease, they will be hurting too but it’s all in your mind, control that, and you’re already a step ahead.

Robin Carpenter 

Carpenter’s stage victory at the Tour of Britain was the high point of a season full of aggressive racing.

My most memorable moment from 2021 was winning stage 2 of the Tour of Britain. I had struggled to seal the deal in a number of winning breaks over the past few years and to finally be able to finish it off solo was very satisfying. I can do a lot of other things well in bike races but where I excel is in the break and having the entire team and staff more invested in this tactic allowed me to have a couple more opportunities than I might normally have.

One thing that I’ve gradually learned over the course of many years is to remain calm when it comes to preparing for bike races. With all of the data available now it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and fret over specific things. Instead, at least for me at this point in my career, it’s become more obvious that I’m usually prepared to address situations as they arise and make calls on the road. If I get distracted by one small detail it means sometimes I can miss something more important.   

Lily Williams

An Olympic medal was the realization of a dream for Williams in 2021.

The team allowed me to give full focus to preparing for the Olympics. That flexibility was special and rare and I could not have qualified or performed there without the team’s support.

I’ve continued to learn over the course of the pandemic and in my third year as a professional athlete to be patient. I want to have good results every time I step on the bike but that’s not realistic and being consistent takes time. More than anything I am looking forward to racing a ton in 2022 and learning more every time I get to race. 

Pat McCarty 

Men’s team director McCarty has been ever-present during some of the team’s biggest results in 2021.

My most memorable moment of the year was when we won two races on the same day: Colin Joyce in Denmark and Kyle Murphy in Portugal. I remember getting back from the podium ceremony with Colin and the guys were going crazy on the bus, watching the live feed of Kyle. I stepped on just in time to see Kyle cross the line first on TV. I just had this feeling that we had finally started putting everything together. It was very gratifying.  

I am most proud of the hard work and never-quit attitude our riders and staff in Europe displayed this season. We keep saying how difficult it has been to operate a bike racing team during a pandemic, but it has truly been an experience to face so much stress and uncertainty while also trying to be at our best. 

Emma White

White won her final race before retirement at the Sea Otter Classic.

My teammates worked for me so I could get a win during my last race weekend and that was pretty incredible. Just having the support of the girls and of the team is something I will never forget.   

This lifestyle is such a gift and although it’s never easy, the reward is so worth it. I have learned not to take for granted when things are challenging or don’t go my way, because it’s all part of the journey! 

Kyle Murphy

2021 was a bumper year for Murphy. As well as the birth of his daughter and two victories in Portugal, he was also the first rider to fall foul of the UCI’s new littering rule. Kind of a record, right?

I am so proud of the team. In my mind, this year we delivered on our goal of developing North American talent by taking them to Europe and getting results with those riders. Although we may be heading in a different direction for the future, it was really nice for me to see that play out.

Our baby girl Sadie was born in February, and the team was so supportive around the birth with time off and made sure I was home. I’m incredibly grateful for that. I think it created a foundation of trust between the team and me that I could balance fatherhood and racing. Because of that support, I was able to achieve things on the bike I wasn’t sure were possible.

I’ve also learned that I shouldn’t drop trash in races, oops. 

Joanne Kiesanowski

La Course was a seminal moment for women’s team director Kiesanowski.

Realizing the ambition of the team and competing at La Course in Brest was a very proud moment. We raced on the same day as the men for the Tour de France and heard a couple of months later that there would be a women’s Tour de France the following year. Then applying for a WorldTour license so as to cement our place in the 2022 Tour de France Femmes was huge. 

Joey Rosskopf

Racing in the Stars and Stripes has been a true honor for Rosskopf.

The team gave me the environment, and support to win the national road championships. It’s an elusive title and one that I’m so thankful for. It could have been any one of our guys and it’s not a win I thought I was capable of even a couple of years ago. But through conversations among ourselves and with our directors in the days leading up to the race I showed up on the start line with a clear head and the confidence to navigate nearly any race scenario.

This season has given me a much-needed reminder that who we are is not defined by our last race or what kind of watts our legs are producing on a given day. Every rider and staff show up with their own story behind their face, what it took to get them there. When we botch a race, the support from this crew just rolls on unphased, reminding me that their respect for each other goes beyond the bike.

Truly a year to remember for our staff and riders. We’ll see you in 2022. 

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com

Israel camp leaves lasting impression on ISN riders and staff

It has been two years since Israel Start-Up Nation was able to gather in Israel for a pre-season camp. It was worth the wait. As Israel re-opened its doors to tourism, ISN’s riders and staff were some of the first to set foot in the country with one goal; experience the best Israel has to offer.

“Discovering the wonders and historic sites of Israel has been amazing for all of us and I’m looking forward to coming back to see more one day soon,” said four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome as the team prepared to depart. It’s safe to say Froome speaks for the whole team.

Seven action-packed days saw the team visit historic sites in Jerusalem including the Western Wall and Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, have the honor of meeting Israeli President Isaac (Bougie) Herzog, and ride in the awe inspiring locations of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. For Froome and some of his teammates, the chance to go mountain biking in the exotic Masada foothills above the Dead Sea was a clear highlight. Alongside the cultural activities, the team experienced Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as tourists, taking in the cities with a number of bonding activities and group challenges.

No matter where the team went, one thing stood out. The fans. From meet and greets at Bar Bahar on the outskirts of Jerusalem and the Ironman 70.3 Tiberias, to meeting the next generation of Israeli cyclists at the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome, the sense of pride and passion amongst the team’s Israeli fans won’t be forgotten. For the riders visiting Israel for the first time, it was a chance to feel the warm support they receive throughout the season first-hand on Israeli soil.

“I have really enjoyed these days with the team here in Israel. It has been a great experience for everybody. These kinds of bonding camps are so important for when racing begins again as this is something that really glues the team together,” added Froome.

For Israeli Guy Niv, the camp was an opportunity to show his teammates his home roads under the warm November sun. “It is great to show my teammates my country, and training grounds, as this year we visited the north of Israel again. The Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, it’s all so beautiful. Also, we finally had good weather. This time we were lucky and we got to enjoy and explore the beautiful country with sunshine.”

Welcoming new faces

The pre-season bonding camp was not just an opportunity to discover Israel but also allow the new 2022 riders to integrate into the team in a relaxed setting. While many WorldTour teams gather their riders for a short bonding camp at the end of the season, ISN’s Israel trip and incredible itinerary was nothing short of unique.

“It has been great to meet the team and get to know everyone already before the new season starts. Getting to explore Israel has been a real privilege. It’s such a historic area in the world and we have seen so much this past week both on and off the bike. After being with the team this week, I can’t wait for the new season to start,” explained two-time Monument winner Jakob Fuglsang, who visited Israel for the first time.

ISN’s newest star sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo echoed Fuglsang’s thoughts. “The first meeting with the team has been great. It has been very interesting to get to know everyone in unusual settings compared to a normal training camp. I think this was the right way to connect with everyone and I got a warm welcome from the staff and all the other riders. I’m really happy and now, I’m looking forward to seeing them all next year,” said Nizzolo.

Sylvan Adams: “A most successful camp”

For ISN’s owner Sylvan Adams, the Israel camp has set the stage for the 2022 season. “Our bonding camp in Israel was probably the most successful edition to date. A combination of tourism, fun team bonding activities, combined with scenic riding in the Judean hills and Golan Heights offered the riders and staff a taste of Israel’s geographic and cultural diversity,” explained Adams.

With 30-degree temperatures in November making for perfect holiday conditions, it’s no wonder riders are eager to return. “Many of the riders told me how much they loved their stay, with several adding that they would plan another trip on their own in the near future. We also had the opportunity to meet our local fans, both on the bike and at the fan expo of Israel’s first Ironman competition in Tiberias, at the Sea of Galilee. All in all, a most successful camp, which brought us closer together as we look forward to a successful 2022.”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com