RACE: Czech Tour stage one, Prostějov › Uničov
DATE: Thursday 27 July

There are three things that immediately jump out at you from the photographs of Itamar Einhorn winning the opening stage of the Czech Tour in July. A raised right hand pierces the sky in celebration. Einhorn’s face conveys pure joy. The unmistakable Israeli national champion’s jersey being on full view.

His victory in the historic town of Uničov was as deserved as it was overdue. “It’s my first win in the pro level in almost two years,” as Einhorn, who first joined the team as a stagiaire in 2017, said afterwards.

In part thanks to his victory, 27 July 2023 will forever be etched in the history books of Israeli cycling. On the same day, IPT Academy rider and Einhorn’s compatriot Oded Kogut won stage two of the Dookola Mazowsza in Poland, marking the first time in history that two Israeli riders have won in separate UCI races on a single date.

Einhorn had already shown significant progress during the season. Having finished fourth at Milano – Torino and ninth at Scheldeprijs in the early weeks of the season, he made history by becoming the first Israeli to ever race Paris – Roubaix in April. A successful defence of the Israeli national road title followed in June, as he beat IPT teammate Guy Sagiv in Urim.

Having enjoyed success racing in Poland for a national team in the week prior to the Czech Tour, Einhorn arrived full of confidence. Stage one marked the race’s only sprint opportunity, and he didn’t let it go to waste.

With a strong team to lead him out, Einhorn was positioned perfectly in the final kilometres. Rick Zabel dropped him off shortly after the flamme rouge, before his 300-metre sprint proved to be too much for his rivals. He said: “I’m so relieved – it’s a result of hard work and a learning curve.”

Two days on from the nightmarish scenes in his homeland, Einhorn placed second on the final Tour of Hainan stage. By then, however, his white and blue jersey had taken on a completely different meaning.

“You do us proud wearing this jersey,” said one of his Israeli fans on social media. “Thank you for giving us something to take joy in while our hearts all ache. Our hearts beat with yours and cry with yours.”