In historic first for Israel, Israeli cyclist completes Tour de France
Guy Niv: I felt shivers when I crossed the finish line on the Champs-Elysees,” Niv recalled. “It was a sense of vast relief and sheer happiness
By ILANIT CHERNICK
In an amazing fete, Israeli cyclist Guy Niv made history this week after becoming the first-ever Israeli cyclist to complete the Tour de France.
Niv rode as part of Team Israel Start-Up Nation, which was competing in the Tour for the first time.
Up until three years ago, Niv was primarily a mountain biker and had little experience in competing in road racing events. For him, being able to complete the world’s biggest professional cycling race represents a remarkable accomplishment.
“I felt shivers when I crossed the finish line on the Champs-Elysees,” Niv recalled. “It was a sense of vast relief and sheer happiness: I have done it for the next generation of young Israeli cyclists. They can now dream of achieving this and more.”
Niv said that competing in the Tour de France “was far from a walk in the park,” adding that he “had to dig deep inside at times.”
Addressing some of the challenging moments of the race, Niv said with the most dramatic part of the race was during the final hour of stage 17, while he was climbing to Meribel, which is the second HC climb of the day.
“I suddenly felt empty,” he said. “Like when your fuel tank is suddenly drained. My BPM was rocketing but my power was dipping. I had nothing. But I said to myself that I just couldn’t give up and I finally made it.
“In retrospect,” Niv added, “we discovered that I had not eaten enough after the first climb.”
Niv’s teammates as well as the directors of Team Israel Start-Up Nation said he surprised them all with the relative ease with which he was able to handle his first Tour de France.
The team’s sports director, Eric Van Lancker said that Guy has impressed them all.
“He knew that the whole country – Israel – was looking up to him, and he dealt with that pressure admirably. We are proud of him,” Van Lancker said.
To team owner Sylvan Adams, Niv is in incredibly brave.
“He faced the country’s and the team’s expectations and never blundered,” Adams said. “As a team, we were in the game in almost every stage, and although we did not get the coveted stage win, ISN finished with 7 top 10s and we were part of many breakaways.”
Adams made it clear that they “will be back next year with a strengthened team, which will be led by the greatest cyclist of the generation – Chris Froome. We are just getting started.”
Niv’s historic achievement has made him into one of the country’s most celebrated athletes in a sport, which is usually shadowed by football and basketball.