Israel Start-Up Nation have completed their 32-rider roster for 2021, with Guillaume Boivin and Reto Hollenstein both receiving contract extensions. The team have planned for their first winter training camp for January, with riders and staff heading to Israel at the start of the year.
The camp will be the first opportunity for new signing and team leader Chris Froome to met his new teammates after the four-time Tour de France winner brought the curtain down on his long association with Team Sky/Ineos Grenadiers in 2020.
Froome isn’t the only rider who will be meeting his new teammates in Israel next season, with Michael Woods, Patrick Bevin, Alessandro De Marchi, Sep Vanmarcke and Daryl Impey all moving to the team.
"Our line-up for next year is significantly enhanced, yet it keeps the core group together. We plan to be extremely competitive in the biggest races, including Grand Tours, Monuments, and Classics. Our pre-season training camp will provide an opportunity to bring everyone together and bond as a unit. Exciting times ahead," said the team’s co-owner, Sylvain Adams.
Froome signed for the Israel Start-Up Nation after using the 2020 season to step up his recovery from a career-threatening crash in the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.
He missed out on a spot in the Ineos Grenadiers squad for this year’s Tour de France due to a lack of top-end form but is hoping to use the winter to good effect as he steps up his hopes of winning a record-equaling fifth Tour de France.
The new riders brought into the squad add depth to a number of areas, not least in the Grand Tours, while Daniel Martin capped an excellent Vuelta a España with a stage win and fourth overall.
"It will be fascinating to see how well we can perform up against the established big teams," said team manager Kjell Carlstrom.
"We have a balanced roster in the sense that we can get results in all types of races, but our strongest chances will be at stage races. We are still underdogs for overall General Classification victories, but we can be in the mix for General Classification podiums. In the next few weeks, we'll sit down and establish a game plan for that."
Carlstrom revealed that a meeting of the team's directors to discuss strategy, tactics, riders, and race programs will take place in Girona, Spain on December 12th, lasting several days.
As well as signing new riders, the team have retained a number of their core riders who either transferred from the old Katusha squad or developed through the early years of the Israel Cycling Academy set-up.
Hollenstein, 35, spent three years at Katusha but his experience was a useful tool this year and the Swiss rider has been kept on board for another season.
"It was a challenging year with the current situation, but I never lost focus and I kept fighting. I am super happy to be part of this team. I am excited for the next season, to race with a strong team and gain from the experience of Chris Froome. The team is going to step up and I am ready to do what's needed to help," said Hollenstein.
Boivin, 31, has been with the team since their Continental days and joined in 2016. He has seen the team move up two divisions and into the WorldTour.
"I've been part of the team almost from the beginning. I'm amazed at the giant steps we’ve taken every year and I'm very excited to be reunited with my good friend [fellow Canadian rider] Mike Woods. I hope I'll get to race with him and support him towards success," he said.
"We have so many substantial additions to an already strong team for 2021. It looks like we will enter all our races with strong ambitions. Of course, Chris Froome brings the team to another level for the Grand Tours – with Dan Martin and Chris, we can expect some fireworks. I think my skill set will be valuable to do the dirty work for those guys. I imagine the Classics will be a big part of my season and with Sep Vanmarcke, we have got a true leader to go to war with. So many exciting things for next year, I’d better work hard in the off-season."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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