The Israel Cycling Academy have been preparing for their first season at the Pro Continental level with a 10-day training camp in Israel that has seen the riders move from the southern desert to the mountainous and coastal environs of Western Galilee. Along the way they've taken in cultural sites like Masada, the Dead Sea, the ancient city of Akka and the Christian holy site of the Church of Beatitudes along the Sea of Galilee.
The Israel Cycling Academy was founded in December 2014 in Jerusalem as Israel's first professional cycling team, with a vision to bring young cyclists, especially Israelis, to the top levels of cycling. The team raced on the Continental level this year and applied successfully to the UCI to jump to the Pro Continental level next year.
The team previously announced new signings Zak Dempster, José Manuel Díaz, Jason Lowndes, Krists Nielands, Ben Perry, Hamish Schreurs, Dennis Van Winden and Tyler Williams. They'll join eight returning riders, including Yechezkel and Goldstein, to form the new squad.
Team manager Ran Margaliot said he wanted his international roster, which includes three Israeli riders and citizens of 11 other nations, to have fun at camp while also learning more about the country where the team is registered.
Following several days in the south, the team moved to the agricultural areas of northern Israel, where a philanthropic group called the Treasures of Western Galilee hosted the riders and staff for three days. The Israeli camp is the second time a professional team has trained in Israel, following a visit by Saxo Bank and Alberto Contador in 2011. The Treasures of Galilee group hosted the Cycling Academy this year with the goal of convincing other teams and groups that Israel is perfect place for winter training and riding.
The Cycling Academy training camp will conclude Tuesday evening with the official 2017 team presentation in the old city of Jerusalem. The team will come together again in January for a second camp in Girona, Spain, where the all of the riders are obligated contractually to live during the season.
Israel Cycling Academy 2017 roster: Guillaume Boivin (Can), Dan Craven (Nam), Zak Dempster (Aus), Roy Goldstein (Isr), Luis Lemus (Mex), Jason Lowndes (Aus), Jose Manuel Diaz (Esp), Krists Neilands (Ltv), Ben Perry (Can), Mikhel Raim (Est), Guy Sagiv (Isr), Hamish Schreurs (NZl), Dan Turek (Cze), Dennis Van Winden (Ned), Tyler Williams (USA), and Aviv Yechezkel (Isr).