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James Piccoli looks to the next stage in his development with Israel Start-Up Nation

Montrealer feels he’s come full circle with ‘Spidertech 2.0’

Photo by: Noa Arnon/Israel Start-Up Nation

James Piccoli has been riding for Sylvan Adams’s teams for the past two years. The rider is one of five Canadians on the squad now, not including Derek Gee who is riding for the feeder team, Israel Cycling Academy.

Recently, Piccoli was in Israel as part of the team’s bonding camp. It wasn’t his first time there, but it was the first time he’d been able to be a bit more of a tourist. “I first came here in 2019, after I joined for the 2020 season. It was later in the year, so it was half training camp, half tourist activities,” he said, while taking a short break from team activities in the lobby of the Royal Beach Tel Aviv Hotel. “That time I feel like there were a lot of things I didn’t get to see in Israel, since we were training to gear up for the season.”

Enjoying Israel as a tourist

This time though, he joined his teammates and staff for a launch, not a training-specific camp. Although there was still riding, they weren’t worrying much about watts and intervals. “We had really just finished our season, so it’s great to see what Israel has to offer.”

The roads of Israel have much of what Piccoli enjoys when it comes to training, however. “Some of my favourite roads I consider home away from home are the dry ones in the desert or rolling hills of the southwest United States, New Mexico, Utah. Or in Spain and Andorra. It’s exactly like that here. I did a great ride in the hills of Jerusalem, when we went to Bar Bahar,” he said, mentioning the team’s group ride to a popular café in the hills west of Jerusalem. “Plus on Saturday it’s the Shabbat, the traditional day of rest for Jewish people so it felt like we had all of Israel for ourselves.”

Progression every year

Piccoli was excited when he moved to ICA for the 2020 season, and he’s been progressing since. Riding with a lot of his countrymen helps as well. “There’s obviously a Canadian influence,” he said. “It’s great to be on a WorldTour team with familiar faces. Sylvan Adams is an Israeli Canadian, and of course Paulo Saldanha, the guru of the team. As well, we have so many Canadians on staff. It’s pretty obvious how the team has grown, and it’s great to be part of it.”

By cycling standards, Piccoli admits he was “old” when he joined (at 28), but he’s been using the past two years to learn what it takes to race consistently for 60 to 80 days of the year, with the best riders in the world. “I had time to adjust, and lots of guys to learn from, such as Dan Martin, Mike Woods or Chris Froome,” Piccoli said. “But now I am guessing I am going to try and shift into doing what I can for the team, which means transition to racing for results and giving it all I have.”

Finally on “Spidertech”

When Piccoli started racing in the early 2010s, the biggest team in Canada was Spidertech, run by Steve Bauer. That was the team to be on, and now, he jokes that he finally made it. With the team being sponsored by the Canadian company, and Bauer joining as directeur sportif, he feels as if his career has gone full circle.

“I’ve never worked with Steve before, never even met him. Of course I knew who he was as he is a true legend.” Piccoli said. “The Canadian DNA on the team is pretty obvious. Of course ISUN is sponsored and supported by the State of Israel, there’s a huge Canadian influence, even on the pro continental team. It’s a great opportunity for Canadians to get inspired like I was by Spidertech.”

When asked who is the heart of the team, Piccoli says it’s Adams. “Sylvan has played an incredible part in making the team grow. He’s one of the most passionate people on the team and it’s beautiful. It’s so great to see the big boss wanting to be so involved with the team.”

With files from Matthew Pioro