Building on the momentum created by their invitation to the Giro d'Italia and its historic start in Jerusalem in May, the Pro Continental team Israel Cycling Academy are now turning their attention toward the Tour de France.
Cyclingnews understands the team hopes to add several French riders and compete in more French races during the 2019 season in a bid to receive a coveted invitation from race organisers ASO.
To that end that team have already added their first French rider in 26-year-old stagiaire Clement Carisey, who will join the team immediately along with fellow trainees Matteo Badilatti, 25, of Switzerland, and Itamar Einhorn, a 21-year-old Israeli sprinter who has ridden with the Israel Cycling Academy development team over the past two seasons. Badilatti will start the Volta a Portugal with the team on Wednesday, while Carisey and Einhorn will suit up for the Czech Cycling Tour August 9-12.
The Israel Cycling Academy, which started as a Continental team in 2015 and jumped to Pro Continental status in 2017, made history earlier this year as the first Israeli team to start a Grand Tour at the Giro. The team's best result over the three weeks came from veteran Spanish rider Ruben Plaza, who finished second on stage 18 to Prato Nevoso. Several riders infiltrated breakaways during the race, and Guy Sagiv became the first Israeli to finish a Grand Tour when the race concluded in Rome.
After the Giro, team co-owner Sylvan Adams signaled the team's intention to keep the momentum rolling, with a goal of making the Tour line up by 2020. Team leader Ben Hermans is signed through 2019, while 38-year-old Plaza signed a one-year deal for this season and will consider his options for next year.
Carisey marks the team's first move into the French market. The promising all-around rider from Lyon rode for top French amateur team Pro Immo while studying in school, but he says his focus will be full on for cycling now.
"ICA is giving me a great opportunity," Carisey said in a statement released by the team. "I am now ranked fourth in the French amateur level and my goal is to be a professional rider. I will do my best in ICA to prove I deserve this next step."
Badilatti rode on the Continental level this year for Voralberg Santic, finishing ninth overall at the Tour of Austria and fourth on the queen stage that Hermans won.
"I am ambitious and I love to climb, especially in stage races," Badilatti said. "I am so delighted to get the opportunity to be a part of such an ambitious and fantastic ICA team. Their mentality, vision and spirit and the willingness to work hard to achieve big goals are entirely in line withy way of thinking."
For Einhorn, this season is his second to end with a stagiaire stint with the Pro Continental team after also racing with them at the end of last year.
"I feel much more ready and determined to prove I deserve a full slot as a pro in Academy," he said.
Aside from racing in Portugal and the Czech Republic this August, the team will send full squads to the US for the Tour of Utah August 6-12 and the Colorado Classic August 16-19. The team's Mihkel Raim won the final stage in Colorado last year.