For the young Israeli rider, Imry Faingezicht, the Giro Next Gen for under-23 riders — the most important race in the world for young cyclists — is undoubtedly the pinnacle of his young career.

However, those who have been with him in the race over the past few days can see a deep sorrow in his eyes. “Yes, I feel great distress since we all lost Guy Timor,” he says. “I can’t — and honestly, I don’t want to — let go of it.”

He rides here with a black armband in memory of the Israeli rider who was killed a few days ago by a reckless driver. He intends to continue wearing it until the very last kilometer. He adds: “It’s a nearly insignificant gesture in light of the loss, but it’s the least I can do.”

They didn’t grow up together and, in fact, found themselves mostly as rivals on the track, belonging to two different clubs. But then they found each other in the same unit during basic training, and since then, a friendship and closeness developed, perhaps because they were so different. Faingezicht, the reserved, serious, and restrained one, versus Timor, the easygoing and cheerful one.

Photo: the Israeli Cycling Team two weeks ago, with Faingezicht fourth from left and Timor on the left

“In joint competitions with the national team or otherwise, he was always making jokes and making us all laugh,” Faingezicht adds. “But before our eyes, a great rider also blossomed: he made incredible progress in the past year. Truly amazing. In the last Israeli championship, he was better than me. Today, as I am here in this huge race, I can’t stop thinking that the driver who killed him actually cut short that shared dream of reaching as far as possible in cycling.

“I understand that calling it murder is a harsh term, but what else can be said about someone who drove recklessly, ran a red light, and had no driver’s license? It certainly wasn’t done in good faith.”

Just nine months ago, he himself was a victim of a horrific accident, hit by a driver who didn’t see him. Beyond a concussion and a broken collarbone, he suffered cervical vertebrae injuries and was just millimeters away from a fatal injury.

Back then, he recalls, it was Timor who supported him: “He encouraged me all the time, asked about my condition, followed my recovery, and strengthened me, even though the accident I went through caused many of my close friends to have serious doubts about riding on the roads.

“Guy’s tragedy could just as easily have happened to me or many of my friends. I ride on the roads in Israel and shudder when cars pass just centimeters away from me. I feel like we don’t count. Here in Italy, not a particularly safe country, I rode in training, and drivers passed me with more than a meter of distance. I feel a strong need to appeal to the conscience of drivers in Israel and plead: please, don’t get on the road if you are not fully alert, don’t try to save a second or two and endanger all of us.”

Guy Timor photo (C) Tomer Feder