Edwin Avila collected Israel Cycling Academy's first win of 2018 and his first win for the team Tuesday at the Tour de Taiwan, taking out the stage 3 sprint in Shingan ahead of Yukiya Arashiro (Japan) and Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare). Avila is now fourth overall in the five-stage UCI 2.1 race behind Clarke, Arashiro and Jimmy Janssens (Cibel Cebon).
Avila, a former track world champion and the 2016 Colombian road race champion, joined the Israeli team this year after two seasons on the Continental level with Team Illuminate. He won two stages and the points jersey in Taiwan last year with the American team.
"This win is really important to me because it makes me really happy because I did this with my new team," Avila said. "They had confidence in me and I responded well. It also gives me more confidence in the team and it gives the team more confidence in me because I'm new so they didn't know me, who I am, how I am as a rider, so this is great to strengthen the whole team.
"I think this win is really important for the team because it's the first of the year, so now we can keep winning," Avila said. "We are really motivated to keep winning stages and races this season."
Avila won the stage from a group of 13 riders that finished more than a minute ahead of the field. Avila and teammate Guy Niv made the lead group of about 25-30 riders that split from the field on a long climb near the middle of the 155km stage.
"After the descent, there was a long flat section and no team took responsibility because there were too many guys, so there were a lot of attacks," Niv said. "I was helping Edwin cover all the moves and to make sure that no group went without him. Finally, there was one attack and Edwin was there. I was happy to let him go because I knew that he was our best chance to win."
The Pro Continental team has big plans for later this year when they make their debut at the Giro d'Italia, which starts May 4 with a time trial in Jerusalem. Two more road stages follow in Israel before the race heads back to Italy.
The win is a nice boost for the team with the Giro less than two months away, and it caps off a solid week of racing. Israel Cycling Academy riders were regular features in the breakaways at Tirreno-Adriatico, where 2018 recruit Ben Hermans finished fifth on the Queen stage and Guy Sagiv became the first Israeli rider to finish a World Tour stage race. Over the weekend in Belgium, Zak Dempster narrowly missed the podium at Ronde van Drenthe, coming in fourth and finishing on the same time as winner Frantisek Sisr.
"The team is on a roll and we are obviously all extremely happy," said team manager Ran Margaliot. "It's beautiful to see how the boys keep motivating each other at different races around the world. Hats off to [director] Kjell Carlstrom, the sports directors, and the entire staff, who have made these results possible with an endless amount of hard work behind the scenes."
Team owner Sylvan Adams said the recent performances validate the team's pre-season preparations and build up for their first Grand Tour start later tis year.
"The riders have shown that we can ride in breakaways and compete during flat or mountaintop finishes," Adams said. "Edwin Avila's first win for the team in Taipei, and Ben Hermans' finish with the world's top climbers at the end of the Queen stage at Tirreno Adriatico, as well as courageous rides by Guy, Dennis [van Winden], Krists [Nielands], August [Jensen], Guillaume [Boivin] and Zak, all portend well for our coming races leading up to the Giro."