Israel Cycling Academy's Guillaume Boivin ensured that he did his bit to show off the team's colours while they were on home ground by getting into the day's main breakaway on both stage 2 and stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia.
Boivin's Israeli teammate Guy Niv initially broke away immediately after the start of stage 2 between Haifa and Tel Aviv on Saturday with Lotto-Fix All's Victor Campenaerts and Androni-Giocattoli's Davide Ballerini, but the move was soon brought to heel.
Ballerini tried again, and was this time joined by Lotto-Fix All's Lars Bak, and although Niv tried to repeat his effort, it was too much. Instead, Boivin was able to reach the leading duo, and later put in an attack in a bid to take the king of the mountains points available on the day's only categorised climb with 75km of the stage still to race.
With the chasing bunch having just about reeled in Boivin's breakaway companions, the Canadian was cheered on by the home crowd as he closed in on the race's first climber's jersey, only for him to be overhauled by Bardiani-CSF's Enrico Barbin, who had powered out of the bunch on the lower slopes. Barbin took the points and the jersey at the top of the climb, much to the Canadian's disappointment.
Instead, Boivin ensured that he was in the breakaway from the gun on stage 3 from Be'er Sheva to Eilat – the longest stage of this year's Giro at 229km. The former Canadian road race champion was joined by his nemesis Barbin and Androni Giocattoli's Marco Frapporti.
Again, the stage featured only one categorised climb, after 125km, and this time it was Frapporti who attacked early to take the three points available at the top, with Barbin taking second and Boivin third. While Boivin was disappointed not take the blue climber's jersey for his team in Israel, Barbin will wear it on home soil in Italy, with a two-point lead in the competition over both Boivin and Frapporti.
When the break wasn't duking it out for king of the mountains points, the escapees worked well together and had the chasing peloton worried when they still hadn't managed to catch them going into the final 10km. After 224km at the head of affairs, with just 5km to go, however, the breakaway trio were eventually reeled in.
"Today was the day that I wanted to be in the breakaway," explained Boivin at the finish in Eilat. "Yesterday hadn't really been part of our plan. On today's stage, I'd ridden these roads during the training camp, and nine times out of 10, coming down that last downhill, there had been a massive tailwind, so I knew if we could get there, with a big enough gap, it would be hard for the peloton to close the gap.
"You can only ride your bike so fast," Boivin continued. "We were riding 70kph, so they must have been riding 75. I gave it a try but in the end our breakaway came apart a little bit. We weren't strong enough. To go solo from 15km out, for one guy, it's just too much, so it's a bit of a shame. We gave it a good try and hopefully it was a little bit suspenseful for the people watching on TV."
Now, Boivin and his Israel Cycling Academy teammates will be tasked with recreating such suspense as the Giro continues back on Italian soil, following the rest day on Monday during which the riders, staff and the race convoy transfer to Europe.
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