Nadav Raisberg admitted feeling “like a little kid, a bit scared and under pressure” when he got the chance to leap into the world’s toughest race, the mythical Paris-Roubaix.

But 5:37 hours and 259 kilometers after the race began, the young Israeli crossed the finish line at the Roubaix Velodrome, proving himself to be a “big boy” in every sense. He delivered a mature, confident, and impressive performance, finishing in a more than respectable 67th place, just a little over 11 minutes behind the race’s dominant Mathieu Van Der Poel.

However, Nadav, the young anti-hero of Israel Premier Tech, the team took a gamble on him by giving him this opportunity, and he repaid their faith in a style, surprising even the professional staff by finishing just behind the team’s veteran rider, the always reliable Tom Van Asbroeck, who suffered from a crash that prevented him from sticking to the selective group of riders that took control of the race early on. But overall, the 2024 edition of Paris-Roubaix was not what IPT was hoping for.

Nadav, who arrived at the finish line in the velodrome after a crash that left him sprawled on the velodrome floor, exhausted and covered in dust, needed a few minutes to recover:

I promised myself that I would fight to the end here, and I’m happy I kept that promise. This is the hardest race I’ve ever done in my life. I knew it would be tough, and indeed it was, especially after crashing before the finish when I tried to catch up with the group of riders ahead. But I’m happy with what I did here, and I’m sure I’ll come back much stronger next time.”

Alongside the considerable support he received from fans, family, and friends, Nadav confessed that he was very relieved not to disappoint, especially today: “I can’t detach myself from what’s been happening in my country over the last six months. Every day, in every race, and even today, thoughts of what’s happening back home don’t leave me. First, the 134 Israelis kidnapped, and then my family, some of whom had to evacuate from my kibbutz in recent months to live far from home. Today marks 6 months since the October 7 disaster, six months in which the kidnapped are languishing somewhere. I pray for their swift return.”

Rik Verbrugghe, the Belgian Sports manager of the team, praised the Israeli’s performance: “This young man will go far. The guy fought as if there was no tomorrow. Until the end. He promised he would do it, and we knew he would keep his promise. But to deliver such a confident and brave performance for the first time on 29 hard cobbles sections – and with zero experience – that’s more than impressive. He will get many more opportunities from us, and I’m convinced this is just the beginning. We’ll see a lot more from him.

And from that matter, there’s no doubt, from the team as well.