At the Israeli National Road Championships, the elite men’s road race tends to follow a certain path. At one point, a small group will come out of the front, made up of riders from the WorldTour Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN) team and its core team, the continental-level Israeli Cycling Academy (ICA). Then these riders will compete for victory.
This is how it has been every year since 2015, when the Israel Cycling Academy * was founded. Last weekend’s 2021 edition seemed destined to deliver more of the same. But that’s not what happened.
Last Saturday, in the hills southwest of Jerusalem, the 2021 Israeli championships were the scene of a big upheaval. The winner of the elite men’s road race: Vladislav âVladâ Loginov, 26-year-old barista, Ukrainian expatriate and former professional folk dancer.
(* The only Israeli Nationals edition that ISN / ICA didn’t win was this first year in 2015 when Guy Sagiv claimed victory. He joined the team a few days later).
Israel National Championships – Road Race (NC)
The race seemed to follow the usual scenario. More than five rounds of a 25 km hilly circuit The ISN and ICA riders were predictable and always threatening. A move from Saned Abu Fares (ICA) appeared to be destined to stay with the 21-year-old solo in the lead in the final lap and a half. In the group behind, Loginov, who was racing for the 500Watt amateur team, was largely outnumbered by teammates Abu Fares Continental and WorldTour.
But then Loginov took his step.
“As my trainer Kenny Wilson suggested in his pre-race advice, ‘When you feel good, when you see it good, go for it,” Loginov told CyclingTips. And go ahead, he did.
“I waited [until] part downhill as the peloton slowed down and here I chose my moment to attack, âLoginov said. âTwo other riders tried to jump on my wheel, but in the uphill part I increased the speed to leave them behind, [and] I was left alone for a full turn.
Behind, Loginov’s rivals ISN and ICA were busy watching each other, eventually marking each other out of the race. Loginov expected this.
âI knew the four would tactically roll against each other and not cooperate – and that I could take advantage of that,â he said afterwards. âAnd that’s exactly what happened. I have immense respect for professionals, but I [used] their rivalry to my advantage.
Loginov joined Abu Fares with a U-turn to do. âWe rode together until the final sprint, but I felt confident in my sprint and jumped for the finish with 150m to go,â Loginov said.
His scream of joy as he crossed the finish line told the story – he had just become the first runner in years to break the hold of the ISN / ICA, as an amateur runner who didn’t had turned to cycling only a few years earlier.
How did the sensational Israeli nationals go?
FIRST SCENE: Saned Abu Fares, the under-23 ICA Druze rider, escapes.
SECOND: Amateur Vlad Ligionov surprises ISN pro favorites, attacks and catches.
THIRD: Favorites cannot form an alliance to catch.
FOURTH: VLAD is the champion! pic.twitter.com/95ZKIYdaPf
– Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@TeamIsraelSUN) June 19, 2021
It’s a familiar story in cycling: an athlete gets on the bike after making the transition from another sport. No need to look far in the professional peloton to find former runners or rowers; even sports like ski jumping and ski mountaineering are represented. But Loginov’s background as a professional folk dancer in Odessa, Ukraine? That just might make him unique in cycling.
“I have been dancing since I was seven,” he told the Elevation coaching site end of 2020. âI was a theater professional while I was studying at a law academy and working as a bartender. I didn’t have time for anything, I just worked like a motherfucker.
âFor five years, I danced as a soloist in the Philharmonic Theater, traveling a lot in Spain, France, Moldova. Maybe that’s why I’m able to push hard now [as a cyclist], because this school gave me a lot.
âSix hours of dancing a day is good workout – I guess around 250 TSS [training stress score] One day!” [the equivalent of 2.5 hours spent riding at FTP â ed.]
Loginov gave up dancing professionally when he moved to Israel in 2017. âIt was not planned but I did not find a perfect place for me here to continue working as a professional dancer because I was dancing the Ukrainian folk dance for years and obviously that does not exist here in Israel “, he said.” So slowly I had to change direction [to] something else to keep me in shape and find a new passion. So i did [it with] cycling.”
Loginov took the plunge at the end of 2017, buying a bike during the Black Friday sales. âI decided to buy a bike just because of the price, thinking ‘it looks good, it’s totally black, let’s give it a try,'” he said. It didn’t take long before he rose through the amateur ranks and showed considerable promise. In 2019 he won a national âMastersâ title – the category just below the elite – and in 2020 he was competing against the best in the country.
At the 2020 Israeli National Roads, Loginov competed in his first elite-level time trial. Riding on a borrowed bike, he finished third, behind only Guy Sagiv and Guy Niv, both of ISN, both finishers of the Grand Tour. This result caught the attention of ISN / ICA co-owner and financier Sylvan Adams and earned Loginov a day of testing with the organization.
A few weeks later, in the National road race, Loginov showed even more promise. An early attack from Niv was unleashed, leaving a select group in the lead: five ICN / ICA riders and Loginov. It was a preview of what was to come in the same race a year later.
In that 2020 race, however, Loginov’s inexperience worked against him. His attack 2 km from the finish was quickly shaken, leaving Loginov down when Omer Goldstein (ISN), Eitan Levi (ICA) and Sagiv (ISN) got past the final sprint.
Goldstein won that day, but Loginov had turned heads. Including that of Adams, the most important man in Israeli cycling.
âOn the last lap, he was in the car and yelling ‘attack, attack, you are strong!’ Tome! Not to his guys, âLoginov said. “I thought, ‘Is he screaming for me? Oh my God really? ‘ It gave me so much power, I was super happy.
Fast forward to this month. Loginov started his campaign at the 2021 national championships with second place in the individual time trial, behind two-time winner Goldstein. And then it was off to the road race where he won against five ISN / ICA drivers, in a situation similar to that of a year earlier. It is no coincidence that this year’s race turned out differently.
âLast year I started training on the velodrome in a new track program with trainer Steve McEwen,â he told CyclingTips. âHe taught me to drive smart and save energy when needed. I put the experience gained this year to good use as this is something that I definitely missed at last year’s championships.
After this revolutionary result, it is not surprising that Loginov is looking further. He would love to run as a professional.
“I worked hard for this victory and it gave me the opportunity to move up to professional level,” Loginov said. âYes, I have received a few phone calls with offers, but nothing official yet and I haven’t signed anything yet. So yes, I am still open to offers, but I hope to have the opportunity to level up soon.
It would not be surprising to see Loginov join the ISN / ICA setup to some extent starting next year. We already know he impressed Adams. On social networks, the team also rave about Loginov’s performance during the weekend.
Wherever he ends up running, it’s clear from Loginov’s past life – and his journey to becoming a national champion – that he’s not afraid of hard work. And eclipse his more sophisticated rivals last weekend when they were so largely outnumbered? It shows the kind of strength and tenacity that are sure to win him many fans.
And if cycling doesn’t work for him, well, Loginov has plenty to fall back on. For starters, he didn’t completely give up his dancing. âI still work in theaters as a freelance,â he said. âBefore COVID-19, it was my main job. And when it all stopped I found the [barista job] in coffee because it is also my passion. Also consider that he has a baby on the way and that the future looks rather bright for this professional dancer who became a champion of cycling.
âI am extremely proud to have become the Israeli national champion,â he said. âOf course, this would not have happened without the constant support I receive from my family, friends and my wife (future mother), who is always by my side. I feel blessed. “