season beginnings: Q&A with jakob fugslang and giacomo nizzolo
Building on a successful 2021, Israel – Premier Tech spent the winter months full of motivation in anticipation for the 2022 race season. Following a team building camp in Israel last November, the riders had several months at home to recuperate and start putting the hard yards in to prepare for another busy year of racing, chasing success.
The team reunited in January to undergo their final preseason training camp in the stunning Girona surrounds. The ten day camp was focussed on structured training blocks with a mixture of endurance and intensity based rides to ensure the riders were dialled and ready to go come the first events of the season now well underway.
Although the camp was primarily about training, the extended block together also allowed for another opportunity for the new riders on the team to get to know teammates, staff and their equipment better both on and off the bike.
While in the midst of the camp, we were able to speak with two of the team’s star new signings for 2022: Jakob Fuglsang and Giacomo Nizzolo.
Jakob Fugslang brings a new level of experience to the team following over 15 years of racing at the sport’s highest level right amongst the very best having achieved some big results throughout his extensive career to date, including victories at Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Il Lombardia, the Vuelta España and a handful of prestigious stage races, in addition to his Silver medal in the road race at the Rio Olympics. Jakob’s strength over hillier terrain and particularly, the Ardennes Classics will bring a whole new world of opportunity to the team, and another string to its bow, combined with the strength of fellow Ardennes favourite, Mike Woods.
Giacomo Nizzolo has established himself over the past decade as an established sprinter, most commonly seen at the pointy end of the one-day Classics. The former Giro d’Italia stage winner and European Champion has been consistently right in the mix for a number of seasons and will slot in perfectly to the team’s sprint squad who last year proved their lead-out train is one of the best on the World Tour. Giacomo’s sheer speed at the finish will be a welcomed addition to the team’s sprint group.
We look forward to seeing what both riders are able to achieve this season with Israel – Premier Tech. Find out what they had to say about season ambitions, their new team, equipment and beyond.
Photography by Noa Arnon
Q&A with jakob fugslang and giacomo nizzolo
What are your first races of the season?
I will start with Valenciana in February. After that I have the Ruta del sol, followed by Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico. And that’s the first block. I then plan to race Coppi Bartali followed by the Classics. I will do also Flanders this year to mix things up. So, the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I’m really happy with the program. It’s a lot of racing, but I finished my season early last year due to a broken collarbone and a fractured shoulder blade and that’s the reason why we want to get a bit more racing in to start with. I’m just hoping that it will bring my level up especially for key races early on like Strade Bianche and Tirreno.
I will start my season at the Challenge Mallorca and then after that, Valenciana – the first stage race of the year. From there, I think it will be the program of the Classics: Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan – San Remo and then the Belgian Classics before the Giro d’Italia.
What are the key races you will be targeting this season?
For sure the one day races like Strade Bianche are a big target for me. I really want to be good there. For me, it’s special. It’s such a beautiful race and it’s one that I would love to win. I came close in 2019, and in 2020 I was also up there but blew my matches a tad too early, so I want to have a good go at it this year. Apart from that, of course the Ardennes Classics are important for me. But I like to start out trying to get the most out of every single race.
I’d like to be strong at the Classics. To be there to play for something big. And then of course, at the Giro d’Italia with our sprint group around me. We want to win stages and maybe I will try to win the points jersey as well.
I’m super happy with the OSTRO VAM. I really love riding it. Like I’ve been saying to the other guys, it’s just a really nice bike to ride. The handling of it on the descents and even uphill…it feels stiff in all the right ways without being uncomfortable. And it’s fast on the flat. It’s fast in general. It’s really well balanced between being stiff but not being overly stiff that you come home with a broken back and handling wise, I really like it. So, I’m super happy with the bike and probably for me it’s the best road bike I’ve had so far in my career. So, I hope that pays off in the results also! I have to say that Factor have done a really great job with developing this bike.
For me, the OSTRO VAM feels really good. I have no complaints so far! It’s fast, it’s light and a great all-round bike.
As a sprinter it’s ideal as it’s stiff and also fast…aerodynamic but light in weight which is going to be really helpful for a lot of finishes. In cycling these days, a sprinter also needs a light bike to survive the climbs because most of the races present a lot of altitude metres, and the OSTRO VAM definitely ticks the boxes there.
Today was my fourth ride on the HANZŌ. To be honest, when I first looked at it when I received it at home, I was really curious to get out on it because I was thinking ‘this bike is going to feel like you have to turn a container ship every corner’ just down to all its big tubes. But I must say that I was positively surprised. The handling is super nice. It’s slightly less advantageous for an uphill time trial with its aero focus, but superfast and so I think it’s a better way to go. In my opinion, it’s better to develop a bike that’s either super aero or super light. Not trying to go for something that’s middle weight but not really aero. With the HANZŌ, I think we definitely have an advantage with such an aerodynamic bike.
So far, I feel that what makes it a really fast bike is the whole set up – with the wheels and everything. Today was my first time really pushing it on the HANZŌ – it really wants to go and it gives a good feeling once you are racing that the bike just wants to go fast and that gives motivation to keep pushing and to go faster. So, from a bike side I cannot complain at all. I’m really happy with both bikes.
At home I’ve ben training on the FORTY-FIVE tubeless Black Inc wheelset and it’s the first time that I have ridden tubeless apart from when I was a Mountain Biker around 12-15 years ago! Honestly, I really like them. It’s super nice to ride tubeless and I think the wheels feel really good and stiff. Of course, it’s a combination of wheel and bike, and the combination is perfect. I’m really pleased with the setup – it feels super smooth.
So far I have been training here at the camp on the Black Inc SIXTY’s and they feel very fast and stiff. I think they will be a great combination to the bike out racing.
Keep up to date with Jakob, Giacomo and team’s progress this season by following them on the below platforms:
– Jakob Fugslang: Instagram – Giacomo Nizzolo: Instagram– Israel – Premier Tech: Instagram I Facebook I Twitter