”I admit it: I was in tears when I won it… I know you will say: this is far from being the most important race in your life, but for a kid that grew up in a small village in Israel, raised up as a youngster taking on his bike, I dreamed that I would become the national champion one day…
And time and again, I came close. But finally, today, it happens. I could not believe that I won it at last. So now do you understand why there were tears? ”
Guess we do, Omer Goldstein.
This morning, our 24 years old from Gilon finally became the new Israeli champion following a dramatic battle between him and his Israel Start-Up Nation teammates.
Taking place in Beit Guvrin, a hilly area between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the race was delayed for five months due to the Coronavirus.
Guy Niv, who became the first Israeli to finish the Tour de France earlier this year, went for an early breakaway. Coming to the national championship in off-season shape, he was forced to gamble.
But his teammates (and rivals!) took no risks and did not let him take more than 2 minutes. They caught up in the fourth lap and soon dropped him out of contention. ” I had some hope that they will give me more of a gap,” he said. ”No regrets. I had to go for it”.
Then it was ISN’s sprinter, Itamar Einhorn, who went for a solo escape of his own, knowing he had no chance on the hilly finish. When he was finally caught, with about 5 kilometers to go, the race was left to the last double hill finish.
Guy Sagiv, the 2020 champion, was there. ” He was racing great,” said Goldstein later with great respect to the three times. ” he did not want to give the jersey with out a fight.”
But there was also our ICA youngster (20) Eytan Levy. Incredible talent and super aggressive: he attacked first.
”It may be a mistake to attack on the last hill,” said Goldstein later. ”I just stayed with him and took off in the final 100 meters. But he is such a promising talent”.
So Omer Goldstein is the one who had the upper hand at last.
The new champion, at 24 years old, enjoyed a very solid Vuelta a Espana and was lauded for assisting Dan Martin to his 4th place in GC. Now, at last, he could take a well-deserving off-season rest.
1. Omer Goodstein (ISN)
2. Eitan Levi (ICA)
3. Guy Sagiv (ISN)
Under 23 :
1. Omer Lahav (ICA)
2. Edo Goldstein (ICA)
3. Saned Abu Fares (ICA)
Pictures: Alon Ron