Just like the Israel Start-Up Nation professional cycling team, Israel’s Gran Fondo Arava appears to be pandemic-proof.
It is the only gran fondo in the world taking place without restrictions on schedule in both 2020 and 2021. That’s no fluke. Israel took the pandemic situation very seriously and held the virus at bay.
Fast-jabbing Israel has since late December undertaken the most rapid per capita vaccination campaign in the world and now has nearly five million Israelis, or over half the population, fully vaccinated.
That allowed 1000 Gran Fondo Arava cyclists to start without any covid restrictions on routes through the Great Crater, Nahal Tzin, Derech Hashalom, along the Jordanian border and up the famed Scopion climb. To mix things up, new to the route this year was 8 kilometres of desert gravel .
Elite 20 year-olds Roy Weinberg and Rotem Tene (Israel Cycling Academy) road hard all day, driving the pace and eventually the two went off the front after the Scorpion climb. They soon opened a one minute gap over a chasing group of four riders. At the finish after 130 kilometres Weinberger was strongest, crossing under the banner in 2:27:36 to win with Tene four seconds back.
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