Welcome to the first post of Israel Cycling Academy Giro Watch! In this column, I’ll bring you previews and recaps of all the action from the Giro d’Italia, which gets underway this Saturday, May 11 in Bologna. Today, I’m taking a look at the team’s goals for the Giro and the lineup that will be put to the test.
ICA has been very clear about what it hopes to achieve in this Giro: Win a stage, Be aggressive, Get Guy Niv to the finish line in Verona.
There are two options for ICA to fight for stages: A breakaway staying away (how Plaza took 2nd on stage 18 last year) or Cimolai in a sprint. To be aggressive, riders will try their luck in breakaways and attack in crucial moments. Finally, Niv hopes to become the second Israeli ever to finish the Giro (or any Grand Tour, for that matter.
With that in mind, let’s see what each ICA rider can contribute to these goals.
Cimolai has been ICA’s top rider this year. He comes into the Giro on great form, recently winning two stages and the GC at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (2.1) and sprinting to 4th place at Eschborn-Frankfurt (1.UWT). He will lead ICA in the sprints, and thinks he has a shot to win a stage.
Gebremedhin is one of ICA’s most consistent climbers. He finished 11th at the GP Beiras e Serra da Estrela (2.1) in April and played a key role in Cimolai’s win at Castilla y Leon (2.1). He will do his best to be aggressive in the undulating stages. Plus, he has a heartwarming life story (check it out
Boivin will be critical in ICA’s campaign as the last leadout man for Cimolai. You may remember him from the Grande Partenza in Israel last year. He supported Cimolai in the Vuelta Castilla y Leon (2.1), while also riding to 2nd on GC, and will try to animate the breaks when he is not on leadout duties.
The tallest rider on the team at 2.04m, Irish national champion Dunne will be ICA’s powerhouse on the flat stages. He’s had a good start to the year, finishing 5th in the Tour of Antalya (2.2). He can help as part of the leadout train, close down breakaways, or indeed go on the attack himself.
24-year-old Latvian national champion Neilands has been a budding star for ICA. He comes into the Giro on great form, recently riding to 2nd place at the Vuelta Asturias Julio Alvarez Mundo (2.1). Keep an eye out for him in the breakaways on lumpier days.
In the last Grand Tour of Plaza’s long, illustrious career, he will try to complete a hattrick of Grand Tour stages having already won stages in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. His best shot will be getting in the breakaway on a mountain stage and going one better than his 2nd-place finish on stage 18 last year.
Niv hopes to redeem himself after illness forced him out of the Giro early last year. This time around, he comes in with another year of experience and several impressive results in his pocket, including 6th at the Tour de Taiwan (2.1) and 7th at the GP Beiras e Serra da Estrela (2.1). His top-priority will be getting to the finish in Verona.
Sbaragli led ICA in the sprints at last year’s Giro, but this time, he will support Cimolai in the leadout train and try his luck in breakaways. Sbaragli has rode well this season, finishing 20th in Amstel Gold (1.UWT) and getting into the breakaway before helping in the leadout at Eschborn-Frankfurt (1.UWT).