It was a story of contradiction: Here, on the tranquil shores of lake Garda, a 48 hours battle was taking place involving Power watts, sweat and some tears - all invested by 17 tough souls. The purpose, orchestrated by an Italian team of experts was clear: get a spot on the team roster of a Israel’s first pro cycling team, and a chance to compete as a pro in significant races all over the globe. “I sacrified a lot from the moment I started Cycling - explained Greek Cyclist Nikolaos Laonnidis (22), all to get a chance on day of getting into a legitimate pro team - but it seemed that I will not be given one”.
Untill he got that invitation from Cycling Academy Team Manager ran Margaliot. Margaliot, a ex pro rider (Saxo Bank) and Italian Sports doctor Roberto Corsetti came together with this revolutionary idea to create a lebratory like process to choose riders to more then half a dozen open spots in the team roster of its second season. “Its an untraditional approach - explained Dr Corsetti who like his whole staff - volunteered to this special project -. We believe its the right way to find the riders who did not have the right connections and were under the radar”.
Like Laonnidis, who had to compete in small races in the Balkans. When he got that prized invitation handed to 17 riders after screening around 600 candidates, he never hesitated. He borrowed money to fly over to Italy for the testing camp. “For me it was the greatest chance I waited for all my life - he explained -. The Idea was to give all the riders who got the prized invitation - exactly the same chance in kind of lerbatory conditions. All went through the exact same process in the same time frame: Series of interviews covering all aspects. The Medical was conducted by Dr Corsetti himself who made clear that his first priority was to make sure that everyone of the riders was riding clean. An hour long Bike fitting then followed by Bio Mechanic expert Gianni Pederzolli. Surprisingly, all riders, even some veteran ones, were found to ride for years on incorrect position.
Then came the power tests to determine the output wattes of the riders.
A test that brought them to the breakpoint. Laoonnidis actually broke his pedal in the heat of the test. He screamed From fatigue and fustration. “I had to give it all but maybe it was not enough - he feared. Coach Mattia Michelusi who conducted the tests tried to console him. The next day, almost with no rest , they all went for a few hours of ride near Lake Garda, Including a “Full Gas” climb, Eventually won by Mexican rider Luis lemus. “I know it was only one climb but I felt i have to win”, said Lemus who was riding in the past few years with American Teams and dreams to get a chance to compete in Europe. “Academy had a great first year” he said. “Its a growing team and I hope to get a chance to grow with it”. Laonnidis surprised much better riders then him and came up second. “I hope to be chosen” he said and admitted he will be extremely dissapointed to miss the cut. “But even if they will not choose me I will be gratefull for the opportunity”.
The camp was concluded last night and the riders promised an answer in days. “I am sorry I can not pick you all”, said Manager Margaliot to the departing riders that came from far away places like Japan Usa. Dr Corsetti claimed the experiment was highly successfull. “I believe this is the future method of selecting riders and hope that more and more Pro teams will use it”.