Alex Dowsett has signed a two-year contract extension at Israel Start-Up Nation. The reigning British time trial champion is set to target the UCI Hour Record on December 12, but the news of a contract extension secures Dowsett's long-term future.
The 32-year-old was out of contract at the end of this season and spoke openly in the Autumn about the difficulties of finding a team for 2021. Several WorldTour teams are set to fold or downgrade next season and with a flooded market, Dowsett was unclear over his future.
However, a stunning stage win in the Giro d'Italia in October reminded the cycling world of Dowsett's pedigree and the fact that he shouldn't be pigeonholed as just a time trial specialist. Over the next two years, he will spread his efforts, racing against the clock but also riding as part of Israel Start-Up Nation's lead-out train and supporting the team's GC ambitions in major stage races. Dowsett will also act as an integral part of the squad's team time trial core and will help to pass on his valuable experience in the discipline.
Israel Start-Up Nation have signed several high profile riders for 2021. Chris Froome joins from Ineos Grenadiers and will target a fifth Tour de France title next year. Patrick Bevin and Alessandro De Marchi arrive from CCC Team, while Michael Woods will lead in Grand Tours and one-day races after moving from EF Pro Cycling. Carl Fredrik Hagen joins from Lotto Soudal, and Daryl Impey will move across from Mitchelton-Scott and become the team's road captain. Sep Vanmarcke has been signed to improve the team's cobbled Classics options.
"I'm very pleased to be staying with Israel Start-Up Nation for another two years," Dowsett told Cyclingnews.
"It's been a tough year and even a Giro stage win helped but didn't really get the phone ringing as people expected it to, but this is a really exciting team to be part of. Chris Froome is joining and that's massive.
"If you look at where this team was last year and then a year and a half later we're on the cusp of having one of the strongest teams in the WorldTour. It's an incredible rate of progression and it's very cool to be part of that. The team were so slick in the Giro compared to the team that was still finding its feet in Tour Down Under."
In a statement released by the team, Dowsett said: "Being on the road with the team is great fun. I'm often referred to as a time trial specialist, and it'll forever be a discipline I love, but I feel I'm of far more value to a team for my strengths as a lead-out man. The team we had for UAE, Tirreno, and the Giro was so cohesive and such a joy to be a part of. This is what I'm most excited about for the upcoming two years.
"From the outside, it's clear ISN is one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams. With the strength of the signings for next year, including Bevin, Vanmarcke, Woods, De Marchi, and of course, Chris Froome, it will be quite something to be part of a team with ambitions to match the signings. I'll be playing a loyal supporting role to these guys and the sprinters throughout the year. When your teammate wins, you feel like it's a win for everyone.
"For my own personal ambitions – I want to make history for the whole hemophilia community by being selected for, competing in and medaling in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. I will soon be taking on the Hour record, something I have wanted to do since my successful attempt in 2015."
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