Brandle signs with Israel Cycling Academy

Austrian looking for possibilities in Pro Continental outfit

Former Hour Record holder Matthias Brändle has signed with Israel Cycling Academy for 2019, the team announced on Tuesday.

The Austrian time trial specialist comes to the team after two seasons with Trek-Segafredo, but says that moving from the WorldTour to the second division is not a step backwards.

"For me it is not a step down to a Pro Continental team," he said. "It's more like a possibility to shine again and more often in France and Belgium where I scored some nice results over the last years."

Brändle has scored time trial wins most recently in the 2017 Tour of Denmark and Baloise Belgium Tour, but also has three national time trial titles and one road race title to his name as well as two stage wins in the Tour of Britain, the GP Stad Zottegem and a stage in the Tour of Oman on his palmarès.

He was one of a wave of riders to break the Hour Record after the UCI modified the rules to allow aerodynamic equipment. He broke Jens Voigt's mark in 2014, covering 51.852km at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland.

Brändle joins an ambitious Israel Cycling Academy squad which competed this season in the Giro d'Italia and is now setting its sights on an invitation to the Tour de France next season. The addition of a specialist like Brändle will help further those goals.

"Matthias is a strong rider who is capable of strengthening the team in many ways," says team manager Kjell Carlstrom. "He loves to be on the attack and could claim victories from breakaways. And of course, he will bring to ICA his TT capabilities which are significant. With his horse power we will be stronger and he will give us the extra depth in certain types of races like shorter and flatter races with a TT."

Brändle's 2018 season took a hit when he broke his collarbone at the Tour de Romandie and was unable to start the Giro d'Italia. He missed out on selection for the Tour de France, but is currently racing in the Vuelta a España.

The offer from Carlstrom, with whom Brändle worked while at IAM Cycling, has given the Austrian new motivation. "Not only I am excited in helping this great project that transforms cycling in Israel. Now I will face the thrill of actually winning races for the team."

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