ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY GOES BIG AND SIGNS TWO WORLD TOUR SENIOR RIDERS BELGIAN BEN HERMANS AND SPANIARD RUBEN PLAZA TO JOIN THE ISRAELI TEAM. A SERIES OF ADDITIONAL MAJOR SIGNINGS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON “ THIS IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT STEP TOWARDS OUR GRAND TOUR GOAL” - ICA OWNERS
Tel-Aviv . August 25. In a bold move towards achieving it’s goal to race in grand tours, Israel Cycling Academy has signed world tour senior riders Ben Hermans (BMC) and Ruben Plaza (Orica Scott) to lead the team next season.
Joining the first Israeli pro cycling team, the two riders bring with them their proven and promising records, including Grand Tour wins (Plaza) and World tour stage races (Hermans).
With a series of additional major signings to be announced in the coming days, ICA’s owners Ron Baron and Sylvan Adams expressed their determination to lead the young team into a new era.
“ We are delighted that great world tour riders are joining our team” said team founder Baron. “ It’s not only a show of trust in this project but a real boost to fulfill our Grand Tour dreams, help us inspire the next generation of Israeli Cyclists, and put Israel on the map in professional cycling”.
Canadian Co-owner Sylvan Adams, whose generous contributions enabled the “Israeli Startup” as he fondly calls it, to expedite its move to the pro-continental ranks in 2017, vowed that the revamped ICA will be very competitive in every race next year, including much bigger races : ”Next year will be very significant in terms of the evolution of our young program, as we aim to race in our first Grand Tour. These riders (Plaza & Hermans) and others soon to follow will provide leadership to ICA, including to our contingent of Israeli Riders as we remain a very young team.”
Both riders stressed that their move reflects their ambitions to take on a new and exciting challenge that they never had a chance to face before. Hermans, a climber, who won the Tour Of Oman this year, said that for him it’s a chance to take a central role as the rider who be expected and supported - to win. “After several years on big teams ( in sometimes secondary roll - Ica) I will now get many more opportunities. This is a great new motivation”.
Ruben Plaza (37) who will enter his 18th year in pro cycling and who has accumulated 25 wins, including a TOUR DE FRANCE stage win in 2015 and two stages at the Vuelta Espana, has stressed that “For me the past is irrelevant. I am now focused on a team that, to me, represents the future of cycling. I am determined to help and lead”.
ICA’s professional hierarchy picked the riders with a clear view that both can deliver on what is expected to be a ground-breaking racing programme for the 3 year old team. “ Hermans is a strong rider and a guy that can do a good TT” said Sports director Kjell Carlstrom. “ He can be a leader in short stage races but can also win stages in Grand Tours too”. That’s exactly what the Belgian has desired. He is only 31 years old, but in his 2nd year as a pro (2010) he was already a World Tour rider and recorded his first win at the Tour of Belgium. More wins and podiums have followed constantly (and unfortunately some crashes that he calls “bad luck at key moments of my career” including this year in the Tour of Poland). He (Hermans) was looking to be “THE GUY” in an exciting project, so when ICA came calling he decided that he had found a match. “ I believe it will bring me to a new level- but not just me - this whole Israeli team that desires to reach the highest level of cycling”.
Ruben Plaza was chosen by Israel Cycling Academy to be a Leader, a Winner, and even a Teacher. “ He has tons of experience, can guide our young riders, and on top of all this, he has the ability to go for stage wins in Grand Tours” said DS Calstrom. Indeed, Plaza has been riding and winning forever, kind of a modest “Version of Valverde”. “ Fifty percent of my life I have spent as a pro, and believe me, it’s not possible if you do not LOVE cycling” he smiles. The new opportunity to take a central role in a young team has got him going : “ I have a huge amount of experience. I love to teach and to help the team win”. He has already identified with the Israel Cycling Academy vision to change and inspire Israeli cycling, and to represent a country: ” We have extra responsibility because we are the image of one country… 2018 will be really important for this project”.
Ben Hermans Pro Biography
Started racing in1998 when he was 12 years old. Studied at University (Attaining a Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences) until 2009 when he signed a Pro Contract with Topsport Vlaanderen.
Key Moments in Cycling Career:
- Results in Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda and Vuelta a Burgos in first year pro (2009)
- Racing at the World Tour level in his 2nd year as pro (Team Radioshack)
- 1st Pro win: 2010 stage 5, Tour of Belgium in Herstal
- in 2011 rode to 8th place in Amstel Gold Race and an early win in Trofeo Inca
- 4x podium: National Championships Time Trial
- In 2015 rode to his first (semi) classic win in Brabantse Pijl, Win in stage 3 of Tour de Yorkshire, Win in Stage 3 of Arctic Race of Norway. 3rd place in Tour de Pologne. 2nd place in Tour of Austria GC
- 2016: 2nd place in GC, Vuelta a Burgos (1 sec behind Alberto Contador and 14th overall in GC)
- 14th overall Vuelta A Espana
- 2017: 1st GC win in Tour of Oman (including 2 stage wins) .
- TTT wins in Catalunya and in Valenciana) and took 2nd in the GC in Valenciana.
Rubén PLAZA Pro Biography
Started racing in Cycling Club Ibi, his town.
Key moments in Cycling Career:
- He was Spanish Championship Junior of Road Race, Individual Time Trial and Individual Pursuit
- He became professional on 2001 with iBanesto.com. But he had problems in the knee. He cannot run for six months!
- He achieved good results soon: Spanish Championship of Road Race in 2003. It was the first victory in professional category and he was only 23 years old.
- He was 6th in the overall of Vuelta a España in 2005 and he won one individual time trial.
- He won the Spanish Championship of Road Race in 2009 again.
- He won one stage in the Tour de France of 2015 and one stage in la Vuelta a España of 2015. In the case of La Vuelta, he was alone more than 100 kms.
- He worked as teammate of great leaders in Movistar and Orica. He was the key rider in the podium of Esteban Chaves in the Giro of 2016