• James Piccoli stays another two years with ISN

  • Piccoli: “I owe my career to my family”

  • “The main reason that I race, is to make my parents proud”

  • “When I read in media ‘he progressed so fast’, I always have to laugh”

“When I first tried road racing, I was so bad”, James Piccoli remembers. “I finished last in every single race. Or crashed. For a long time, I was like: ‘I don’t want to do this’, so I quit racing and played hockey and golf. I kept riding though, and at twenty years old I started training for road racing again. Since then it has been full gas, till the most recent point that I extended with Israel Start-Up Nation for another two years.”

“When I read in media ‘he progressed so fast’, I always have to laugh. They have no idea”, the Canadian says. “It took me a whole while to figure out what racing was and to understand how it worked.”

Piccoli started riding bikes when he was twelve years old. “My dad got me into it and we just had fun, riding around town and exploring cafés. He was faster, I remember, especially on the flat, so I trained on the climbs.”

His dad, Gene Piccoli, was his biggest friend and rival during his childhood, and therefore Piccoli especially went out training when it was cold in winter times. “Because my dad would not join me on the rides as he would say: ‘It might rain later when we are riding’. I went out with the idea that if I trained hard today, I could maybe beat him tomorrow.

Stepping into the racing scene was hard though, for the 28-year-old. ‘G’ Boivin and Alexander Cataford know and mentioned before: the race in Saint Martin is one of those races in the Eastern-Canada cycling scene that will be remembered forever by the three, also by Piccoli.

“Oh yes”, Piccoli admits, “I’ve got the worst memories of that. It is a flat, square loop of 10 kilometers, in the middle of nowhere of the fields Quebec. I did it for the first time when I was twelve when I had no clue how to act in the peloton. I dropped from the peloton after the first corner, 300 meters in the race. My parents were there, and I still wonder how they felt about that, but they also knew that I had the work ethic and that I eventually would get the hang of it.”

ISN’s pro manager Kjell Carlström agrees with Piccoli and says that in 2019 the world saw that James got the hang of it in the Tour of Utah, where he was able to compete for the victory. “He then presented a great attitude during the first few months this year where he took on-board the feedback when failing in some races and rose to a higher level towards the following goals. We are certain that James can continue to progress and really establish himself as a great support rider in Grand Tours or going for personal success in races on hilly and mountainous terrain.”

Being a member of a WorldTour-team proves that he did get the hang of racing by time, and he does hope that more and more Canadian cyclists will make the step to the highest ranks of racing. “During the corona crisis I was at home in Canada and I have never seen so many people riding bikes. There was bike traffic, shops were sold out and long waiting times at mechanics. I hope that competitive cycling grows as well.

Himself is happy that he could sign for two years, as it is his first time he extended a contract with a team for more than one single year.

“I have a number of goals with this team”, he mentions. “First is having fun and enjoying what I love most. Number two is to be a really good bike rider and with the company of the riders in this team I know that I can develop more, help them in races and eventually be able to do what they are able to do: winning the biggest races in the world.

“But third, and that is the main reason that I race, is to make my parents proud. My dad and my mom are my biggest fans, my dad is the biggest ISN-fan and is at least as happy with the extension than I am myself. My mom and dad are coming over everywhere to see me racing, all over the globe. They have seen the whole journey and I would not have been a cyclist without them. I owe my career, now another two years on WorldTour level with ISN, to them.

Video: Sjors Beukeboom, Photos: Refined Moment