On the roads in northern Israel, members of the WorldTour Team Israel Start-up Nation and pro continental team Israel Cycling Academy held their first training camp since being released from the coronavirus lockdown.
Israel has been the first country to allow pro teams to come together for the purposes of training, and the team is considering more training camps in Europe when allowed.
“This is a testament to the forward-looking and astute Israeli management of this pandemic and our nation’s relatively low number of cases,” said ISN team owner Sylvan Adams from the camp which was held in Beit Hillel, a few dozen kilometers south of the Golan heights.
The teams conducted the training camp training under strict “coronavirus rules,” to ensure limited exposure to just 20 riders, mechanics, soigneurs, and coaches.
All camp participants had to sign a statement of a clean bill of health, body temperatures were tested often, meals were delivered in boxes and eaten with strict social distancing practices, team and support staff wore masks when in close quarters, and all non-training activities were held outdoors.
“The team is doing its utmost to protect us,” said ISN climber Guy Niv, “so I feel pretty safe.” His teammate, the sprinter Itamar Einhorn, admitted that the issue is on his mind, “Everything is much stricter. You bring your own set of bottles to the ride, and nobody else will touch them but you.”
Niv’s teammate Omer Goldstein admitted that in “the first group ride yesterday, I felt such a high it was unbelievable: it gave me a crazy boost of energy.” ICA team Manager Aviad Izrael who oversees the camp said after completing the second day of camp today, climbing the Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel: “I have never seen this kind of motivation in training before. The riders are just ecstatic. I guess that what happens after 2 months of Corona lockdown.”
“There are several hurdles to overcome before the season restarts and restrictions of movement between countries are the most crucial,” explained ISN pro manager Kjell Carlstrom. “It may be difficult to have a full team training camps as we have riders living all over the world. We may need to build several squads based on areas and which races they are selected to, and keep them together. For sure, it will be very complicated and challenging,” he said.
Team owner Sylvan Adams was enthusiastic that his team was able to take the first step, “We look forward to similar improvements in other countries, as we prepare for the resumption of the race season, and our historic participation in the Tour de France, a first for our Israeli team.”