Guy Sagiv wasn't a big fan of all the attention he received back home after becoming the first Israeli to finish a Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia in May. The 23-year-old Israel Cycling Academy rider was greeted by fans and TV cameras when he returned from Italy, but he told Cyclingnews he didn't really like it.
"I didn't win anything," he said before the start of stage 1 at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. "History has been made, but that's not what I am aiming for. It's only finishing a race. It's nothing special."
Sagiv and teammate Guy Niv were the two Israelis on the first Israeli team to start a Grand Tour this year at the Giro, and both set high ambitions of finishing the race while helping their teammates hunt stage wins. Niv had to abandon on stage 5 after suffering from illness, while Sagiv soldiered on to the finish.
Sagiv said he faced his toughest day on the 244km 10th stage from Penne to Gualdo. The lumpy route included three categorised climbs, and the GC was very much in play as Mitchelton-Scott's Estban Chaves, who was second overall at the time, was dropped early and the peloton put the hammer down to gain as much time as possible. Chaves eventually finished 135th, more than 25 minutes back, dropping from second overall to 39th.
Sagiv and some of his cohorts were also victims of the GC dynamics.
"So basically it was like a 244km stage with lots of climbing, and I got dropped on the first climb after like 5km," Sagiv said. "That was along day in the back.
"There were like 20 guys on the back and we were hoping to chase back, but the gap was just going bigger and bigger. At one point we thought it was game over and we would all go home, but at the end of the day we made it and it was good."
Sagiv finished the stage 166th, more than half an hour behind stage winner Matej Mohoric (Bahrian-Merida), but his goal of finishing the race was still in sight. He eventually finished in Rome 141st overall, 5 hours, 15 minutes and 42 seconds behind overall Champion Chris Froome of Team Sky.
"It was quite a challenge," Sagiv said of his first three-week tour. "It was one of my goals for the race but not the only one. My biggest goal was to help my teammates and try to be helpful for them. So I did this and also finished, so that was a bonus."
After the Giro and his hero's welcome in Tel Aviv, Sagiv returned to Belgium for a series of one-day races and then the Israeli national championships, where he finished second to teammate Roy Goldstein in the road race. Now he's in the US at the Tour of Utah, making his debut in the Beehive State and once again pledging to help his teammates.
"It's a first time for me in Utah, actually, so I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "I've heard good things about this race. It's a tough race with good climbs and a good field. Let's see."
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