Oded Kogut was crowned the new Israeli road race champion in Beit Guvrin today, one day after successfully defending his time trial title.

The 23-year-old sprinter from Haifa won the title this morning, finishing ahead of two of his Israel – Premier Tech teammates, the outgoing champion Itamar Einhorn and Rotem Tene.

The three broke away from their rivals at the start of the race, which consisted of six laps (with a total race distance a little over 150 km) and started at 7am.

The peloton behind had no chance nor motivation to chase the strong trio, who enjoyed a full eight-minute gap as they worked harmoniously, distributing their energy among them and taking turns leading to ensure the peloton could not threaten them.

In the end, an extraordinary scene developed as the three crossed the finish line together, holding hands, in a display of unity and cooperation, making sure their teammate and breakaway companion, Kogut, crossed the finish line first and was crowned the new champion. Einhorn placed second, Tene third.

Kogut explained the gesture: “We all felt it was a moment of unity. Itamar was the champion for the past two years – and he is also the one representing us at the Paris Olympics, where I was one of the riders who helped him earn points. For him, it was right to make the gesture for me because, in the end, we ensured that a member of the team won and earned points for the team. We support each other, and I greatly appreciate that.

“Even today, we worked hard together in the breakaway and strived to achieve this victory. And for me, standing on the podium together and calling for the release of the hostages – the most important thing for all of Israel – is the truly emotional moment.”

In the under-23 race, a new winner was also crowned: Matar Peretz from IPT’s young Academy team. The 18-year-old joined the young team only this year but delivered an excellent race today. It was an impressive team ride as Imry Faingezicht (who also successfully defended his under-23 time trial title on Friday), Aviv Bental, and Guy Tahar worked to isolate their rivals before the finish. Peretz then overcame Faingezicht to take the biggest win of his career to date.

The championship was held in the shadow of the tragic loss of rider Guy Timor, who was killed in a car accident by a reckless driver while riding his bike. The entire championship was dedicated to his memory. IPT owner Sylvan Adams participated in the memorial ceremony for Timor and wore a shirt commemorating his name.

Photos: Ofer Eavri