“Looking at the profiles of the stages ahead,” Guy Sagiv said in the bus, with the Giro roadbook in his hands, “I cannot think of any race I did that was harder than this looks like.”

Israel Start-Up Nation has made it to the third week of racing in the Giro d’Italia, which will be – according to some cycling media – one of the hardest weeks of racing in the history of cycling.

Especially given the time of the year. Italians have already spent an early-season ski holiday on the slopes of the Passo dello Stelvio (the scene of stage 18).

After the rest day (Sagiv: ‘I would have loved to have another one’), stage 16 in the Giro d’Italia covered a distance of 229 kilometers, including six categorized climbs. It isn’t even the longest stage this Giro. Stage 19 has a total distance of 259 kilometers (the same as the cancelled one-day-classic Paris-Roubaix).

There are a few days that look incredibly difficult on paper. No wonder ISN, with its sprint train and climber Dani Navarro who was in the break-away the stage before the rest day, tried to save some energy today. Dani Navarro might give it another go in the break in the following stages, while Cimolai and his lead-out train will focus on surviving the big climbs in the Alps, as well as sprinting in the nineteenth stage.

Sagiv: “It is going to be six to seven hours every day on the bike. Motivation will be key, and everyone on the team is eager to reach the finish in Milan.”