Entering just their sixth year after a small idea become a big project, Israel Cycling Academy are looking to stamp their newly minted WorldTour team status with a podium showing at this year’s Jayco Herald Sun Tour. And with an overarching fresh new name as Israel Start Up Nation they are wanting to capitalise on opportunities in their January southern swing.
One of their leaders for our Tour, Canadian Ben Perry brought his own humour and twists to a few questions we posed, including his preparation.
“On the advice of my mentor and team manager Zak Dempster I have come early to enjoy the warm weather, group rides, and crits around Melbourne in anticipation for the event.
I was also lucky enough to be supported by CycleHouse NRS team to join in the racing at the Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits”.
But the 25-year-old, who has been through heavy negotiations to stay a part of the wider line up, knows that with his teams new standing comes a level of responsibility and the harsh glare of the media spotlight and fan expectation
“Being a WorldTour team we will need to go head to head against the other strong teams, this will mean more time controlling and less chances for breaks. We will need to back our climbers and guide them deep into the key climbing stages.”.
Perry is a confident all-rounder with a sprinters edge and with a mix of new names to watch out for he is confident in the line-up that could deliver some stage wins and challenge for fast finishes.
“We have a strong team all around with everything from a pure sprinter to pure climber, so a guy like me will hang out in the middle of that and probably spend a lot of time fetching bottles! We will probably look to Miku [Raim] for the sprints and James [Piccolo] for the climbs but you never know this time of year who will step up and become the leader, as it is very early for a lot of guys.”
With riders from Estonia, Canada, Israel and Great Britain for this event they are very conscious of national pride, and know that those wearing green and gold, either as their team colours, or under them will be pushing for profile. The opposition will be on two fronts
“Mitchelton, EF and even the Aussie national team. These teams are filled with Aussies who are super hungry to win at home. Even guys I have met in Melbourne like Mark O’Brien. He’s the peoples champ with WorldTour ability but racing with the young guys on the national team. No one should be underestimated.”
This line up will be keen to show they belong in the upper echelons and will be looking for big results at our Tour.