The Israel Cycling Academy has completed their 2018 roster with the announcement of a two-year deal for Omer Goldstein, a promising 21-year-old Israeli the team dismissed from their development squad earlier this season.
"I dreamed about this moment since I started riding an eight-year-old bike," said Goldstein, who is the team's fifth Israeli and the youngest rider on the team.
"But for me the dream is just beginning. I hope to stand in the Academy uniform on podiums. It will take very hard work from me and maybe quite a bit of time, but I got the chance and now I have to prove that I deserve it."
Goldstein overcame adversity in 2015 when he crashed into a support vehicle while competing in the UCI Road World Championships U23 road race. He returned in 2016 after a long recovery and raced as a trainee with Israel Cycling Academy at the end of that season, finishing in the top 10 of stages at the Tour of Rwanda twice.
Goldstein signed on with the development team for 2017 but ran into trouble with management in June, when he was released from the team for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
"The team Management has decided that Omer had not been able to fulfill all the team disciplinary requirements and he will therefore part ways with the team on immediate basis," the team wrote on their Facebook page at the time.
Israel Cycling Academy declined to elaborate on the incident, but it appears the conflict arose with the pro team's management over Goldstein's perceived lack of discipline and teamwork. Israel Cycling Academy director Ocar Guererro helped Goldstein find a ride with a Basque team, Ampo, where he took a victory at Memorial Etxaniz.
"Parting with Academy was a kind of blow to my head for me," Goldstein admitted in a statements released with the team's announcement on his return.
"I realised that if I did not take [control and live] as a professional in every detail, I would lose my career. I am almost happy today that this crisis has come. It helped me understand what was required of me as a professional."
Team manager Ran Margaliot said Goldstein handled the episode with maturity.
"We are convinced that he is coming to us more willing and mature to begin a career as a professional rider," the team manager said In a statement released with Wednesday’s announcement. "We [will give] him races and a chance to develop patiently."
Guerrero said Goldstein is a 'true talent' with a lot of potential.
"He is a talented climber and a very aggressive rider and perhaps most important: he has a lot of faith in himself and his abilities. With hard work and with lots of race miles in his legs, he can go far," Guerrero said.
2018 roster complete
Goldstein is the 24th and final rider for the 2018 roster as the team builds toward a hoped-for invitation to its first Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia, which will start in Jerusalem next year.
"I cannot wait for the start of the new Academy race season," said Israeli-Canadian philanthropist Sylvan Adams, who, together with Israeli businessman Ron Baron, is behind the first Israeli professional team.
The team started in 2015 as a Continental program and jumped to Pro Continental status this year. For 2018, the team have increased their roster from 18 riders to 24, adding WorldTour veterans like Ben Hermans from BMC and Ruben Plaza from Orica-Scott.
"We have established a much expanded and strong team that includes a series of experienced international cyclists with proven track records, including victories at the world's greatest races," Adams said. "They join our talented young group who has already gained experience in many races and the Israelis who were promoted from the development team."
Owner and team founder Baron spoke to the importance of including Goldstein on the pro team.
"Omer and the Israelis are the reason for the establishment of ICA: to provide an opportunity for Israeli cyclists to fulfil their dreams and compete in the world's greatest races," he said. "Therefore, it is symbolic to me that Omer is the rider who completes the upgraded team."
Israel Cycling Academy 2018 Roster: Edwin Avila (Col), Guillaume Boivin (Can), Zakkari Dempster (Aus), José Manuel Díaz (Spa), Nathan Earle (Aus), Sondre Holst Enger (Nor), Omer Goldstein (Isr), Roy Goldstein (Isr), Ben Herman (Bel), August Jensen (Nor), Luis Lemus (Mex), Krists Neilands (Lat), Guy Niv (Isr), Ben Perry (Can), Rubén Plaza (Spa), Mihkel Raim (Est), Guy Sagiv (Isr), Kristian Sbaragli (Ita), Hamish Schreurs (NZl), Daniel Turek (Cze), Dennis Van Winden (Ned), Tyler Williams (USA), Aviv Yechezkel (Isr), Ahmet Örken (Tur).