The Israel Cycling Academy today announced signing sprinter Riccardo Minali from Astana. The 23-year-old Italian rode with the Kazakh WorldTour team the past two seasons and will further bolster the Israeli-registered team's Italian flavour.
“I can’t even start to describe this kind of super motivation I am bringing with me to ICA,” Minali said in a statement released by the team. “Don’t get me wrong. I was happy with Astana and I got some good results this year, like winning two stages in tour of Langkawi, but I know that I can do so much more and become a great sprinter.”
Riccardo Minali is the son of Italian cycling great Nicola Minali, who retired from Taconi Sport in 2002 with 12 grand tours and 45 professional wins among his palmares. The elder Minali won seven stages at the Vuelta a Espana, two stages at the Giro d'Italia and three stages at the Tour de France, including the Champs Elysees stage in 1997.
“My father was amazing as a rider, and later on he was the reason I started cycling in the first place, way back when I was just 7 years old,” Riccardo Minali said. “Later on, when I turned to be a pro, he passed me that passion to cycling and becoming the person that I can turn to for advice. He is totally behind me in this great move to Israel Cycling Academy. I believe that I will get many opportunities to sprint, that I will get the support of the team in lead outs and counting on me to deliver.”
Heading into its third-year on the Pro Continental level following participation in the 2018 Giro d'Italia and its historic start in Jerusalem, Israel Cycling Academy has taken multiple steps to add more Italian flavour to the team, previously announcing that it has signed Italian Davide Cimolai from (Groupama-FDJ). Italian sprinter Kristian Sbaragli joined the team from Dimension Data last year.
The team also continues to focus on building its sprint train, announcing earlier this year that it had signed French fastman Rudy Barbieri from AG2R La Mondiale and Tom Van Asbroeck from EF Pro Cycling. The new additions will join sprinters Mikhel Raim – the team's most prolific winner over the past two seasons – and Norwegian Sondre Holst Enger.
“The great thing about Riccardo is that he is kind of a gem – an unfinished product that can thrive and develop when given a chance and support,” said Israel Cycling Academy Pro Team Manager Kjell Carlstrom. “And we definitely are going to build a 'train' around him.”
Minali was born in Isola Della Scalla, Italy, and now resides in Verona. Israel Cycling Academy has a proven ability to get into the Italian races, with a start in the Giro this year, as well as Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and a host of other one-day races. The team hopes to enter those races again next season, an exciting prospect for the young Italian rider.
“I dream of winning a stage in the Giro and going for Milan-San Remo,” Minali said. “I am not scared to say it.”