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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 4, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Predicting rain doesn't count. Building arks does. - Warren Buffett

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Final Giro d'Italia pre-race news posts

We're posted the start list with back numbers as well as photos of the presentation ceremonies.

Here are some Giro rider quotes from the Giro organizer:

Bahrain – Merida

Domenico Pozzovivo: “I trained hard at altitude before the Tour of the Alps where I performed well. It’s been the ideal lead-up to the Giro d’Italia. Cycling is such a global sport that I’m used to travelling for racing, and I think it’s a great opportunity for us to start outside of Italy. I like it here because it’s hot. Depending on the speed of the peloton, I hope to have a chance to look around during the race since it’s my first time in Israel. Vincenzo Nibali was one of my rivals before; he’s now a team-mate. During Tirreno-Adriatico, we shared a few little secrets. He’s a master in positioning in a peloton while I still have a lot to learn. He also took me on a mountain-bike to improve my descending skills. I expect to lose around forty seconds in the opening time trial to riders like Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin who are specialists in this discipline. Then the Giro will be decided in the mountains. I particularly like the Jafferau for the length of the climb.”

Deminco Pozzovivo

Domenico Pozzovivo at the Giro presentation ceremony. Sirotti photo

AG2R La Mondiale

Alexandre Geniez: “Coming to Jerusalem for the Big Start of the Giro is a break from our usual routine but it’s beautiful and historical. Cycling can’t only be located in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. I come to the Giro with the idea of riding for GC. I’m the only leader of AG2R-La Mondiale, which is different from last year as I co-captained the team with Domenico Pozzovivo… and I pulled out of the race for the second time in a row. Every season, we restart from scratch. My preparation has been very good this time with a two-week training camp in Sicily along with my team-mates Matteo Montaguti and Mikaël Chérel. I reckoned the tricky stage to Caltagirone and the Etna, which is an usual uphill finish, not long and not steep but irregular. It’s important to know where to recover. “

Israel Cycling Academy will be racing on home turf the first few Giro stages. Here is their pre-race news:

At a packed press conference in Jerusalem this afternoon [May 1], Israel Cycling Academy laid out their Giro d’Italia goals in no uncertain terms, including winning a stage and supporting the two Israeli riders on the roster.

Team co-owner Sylvan Adams stated the team’s three goals for the Giro. “First, to be active in the races as we’ve done all season, especially of late. Second, we’d like to win a stage or two! Let’s be optimistic. We can be lucky but we have to make our own luck. I see a stage or two where if we can have the right strategy and the right luck, we can win. Third, bringing Israelis to a Grand Tour was a goal and now that we’ve done that, we want to bring both our Israeli riders, Guy Niv and Guy Sagiv, to Rome to make it through the race.”

Sharing the distinct honor with his teammate of being the first Israeli cyclists to ever ride a Grand Tour, Israeli Guy Niv insisted that riding the Giro is about more than just his personal cycling career. “It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m really excited but I’m here not only to ride well for my team but also to hopefully be an inspiration to young Israeli riders who will see us racing this weekend. We hope the Giro will change the culture of Israeli cycling over the next few years.”

The team previously acknowledged that selecting Sagiv and especially Niv, who began road cycling in 2017 after mountain biking professionally, was risky. Margaliot said one of the team’s priorities will be to “make sure we are guiding the young guys. We will dedicate a lot of energy to that.”

Israel Cycliong Academy

Israel Cycling Academy is presented at the opening ceremony. Sirotti photo

Compatriot Guy Sagiv told the press, “For every kid who rides, the dream is first to become a pro cyclist, then the next dream is to take part in a Grand Tour, and that really excites me, especially when it’s here in Israel, so it’s triple excitement for me. Growing up in Israel there was no specific team to dream of, but now for kids in Israel they have this team to aspire to.”

Ben Hermans has been impressed with the growth he’s seen from his Israeli teammates. “It’s a big step forward for Guy and Guy in just the few months since I’ve met them. They’re really at the level to do a Grand Tour. It’s surprised me but they’re ready.”

Australian veteran Zak Dempster expressed confidence in his Israeli teammates abilities. “I met Guy about a year and a half ago. From the get go, he is a gentle person but also very direct and that shines though in the way he rides with the team how he operates. When I joined this team, I became the veteran before I’d even turned thirty! But now I am actually thirty and it’s refreshing to see the guys learning things every race. They’re motivated and then they get that motivation beaten out of them after a tough day, but then it comes back stronger than ever. It’s nice to be part of a young group who don’t know what they’re in for,” he laughed. 

Guillaume Boivin said, “I was first introduced to the team through [team co-owner] Sylvan Adams who is also from Montreal. He explained to me the short and long term vision of the team and I was hooked on the team. How often you hear a young team say they’ll be World Tour or ride a Grand Tour? How often does it really happen? And look at us! Starting the Giro—in Israel! It’s incredible. Now the goal is to make youngsters dream. I hope it will inspire all the young kids on the side of the road because it all starts with a dream. More than anything, this team shows dreams are possible to obtain.”

For Kristian Sbaragli, this edition of the Giro is a home race in every sense. “As an Italian, to be part of this team and start the Giro in Jerusalem is something special. Personally, it’s my home race and it starts from the home town of my team. I’m excited to start the Giro and to start with my team. I really felt the difference from when I arrived here in Israel, I’m being honest when I say this team really is like a family. When the team goes well, it’s easy to see but when the team has a hard day, it’s even more apparent we are a family, just when you need it the most.”

Reflecting on his lengthy career, Ruben Plaza said, “When you are nearing the end of your career, you always try to enjoy the attention. I don’t know if this will be my last Grand Tour so I just want to enjoy it. My main goal is to win a stage or certainly fight for it. The goal of the team is the same. We have ahead of us three hard weeks to try to do it.”

While just a few years ago, Ran Margaliot was a self-described lost soul upon the conclusion of his brief cycling career, today he stood on stage in Jerusalem to introduce his eight selected riders to the media ahead of the Giro d’Italia’s unprecedented Big Start in Israel.

The journey has come full circle for General Manager Margaliot. A chance meeting with Ron Baron, a philanthropist and passionate cyclist, led to the pair founding Israel Cycling Academy. Today, Israel Cycling Academy’s eight man Giro team started their first Giro training ride from the same café in the Jerusalem hills where Margaliot and Baron first met. The team will continue training this week in the Jerusalem mountains ahead of the Giro’s opening time trial in central Jerusalem on Friday.

Speaking about the team’s vision for the cycling in Israel, Margaliot said, “The concept was to use this beautiful platform, these great athletes, this amazing opportunity from the media, and this special edition of the Giro to inspire an entire generation of new cyclists.”

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this Giro update:

On Friday, 4th of May, the 101st edition of the Giro d'Italia starts in Israel and takes the riders over 3.562.9 kilometers to the capital of Italy, Rome. In these 21 days, the peloton has to cover two individual time trials, seven sprint stages, six medium difficulty stages and six mountain stages.

The German team will be led by two co-captains, Davide Formolo and Patrick Konrad. For the sprints Sam Bennett will be the man to watch and with his key lead-out man Rudi Selig aside, the two want to impress also in this year’s Giro.

Davide Formolo

One of the Bora-hansgrohe co-captains, Davide Formolo. Sirotti photo

Rider Quotes:

Ralph Denk: “Our expectations are high coming into the Giro. After taking the first stage last year, we want to achieve kind of the same things this year, and we will give our best to make this happen. I think, we have a strong line up at this Giro d´Italia, all our riders had a good training period, are in a good shape and the most important thing, we have a special spirit within our team. Therefore, I look confident that we will have a good first Grand Tour 2018.”

Cesare Benedetti: “I am here to help my team and will support them one hundred per cent the upcoming three weeks, especially Sam and Davide. I hope we will arrive safely and healthy together in Rome, with some stage wins and a good result in the general classification.”

Sam Bennett: “I wasn’t sure about my shape after a long period without racing, therefore Eschborn-Frankfurt on Tuesday was really important for me to see where I stay. I felt really good and I am now I look confident into the upcoming Giro d´Italia.”

Davide Formolo: “I am really looking forward to this Giro101. We will start in Israel and finish in the capital of Italy, Rome. My shape was already good at Liège, actually my whole preparations went really well, that’s already a big step. Now I can be confident and for sure the one or other stage result will come, but I’ll also aim for the GC. We are here with a great team, therefore we will have a good time together and hopefully also secure some nice results.”

Felix Großschartner: “It is my second participation in the Giro d´Italia and with the start in Israel and finish in Rome, it will be something special. The upcoming weeks, I will support our GC Contender Davide as good as possible, especially in the mountain stages. But if I get the chance to go for a good stage result, I am eager to take every opportunity.”

Patrick Konrad: “My preperations went well and I already secured some good results which makes me confident ahead of the Giro. I will be one of two co-leaders for BORA – hansgrohe and with the opening TT and the first summit finish at stage 6, we will see early in the race what is possible in the GC. But the decisive part of the race will be the last week, I learnt that last year in my first appearance, and this year the final of the race is even harder.”

Christoph Pfingsten: “I am more than motivated and I am so grateful to be at this year´s Giro101. I hope that I can support the team in the best way, but I’ll also try to use my chances, if I get any opportunity. Anyway, I hope we will have a nice time with a lot of success together.”

Andreas Schillinger: “It is something special to start in Israel, given that there wasn’t any big cycling race here before. It’s difficult to evaluate the upcoming stages, like the wind or the roads. However, I think we can achieve some stage victories, we have different options and of course we’ll go for it.”

Rudi Selig: “Of course we try everything to achieve stage wins and my task will be to support Sam in the sprint stages as his last lead-out rider. I think, he is in a really good shape, like he showed in Eschborn-Frankfurt. Hopefully, we manage to take an early win, like last year with Lukas.”

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