Israel Start-Up Nation announced the arrival of Danish Grand Tour contender Jakob Fuglsang and Canadian Hugo Houle from the Astana squad, confirming reports on Cyclingnews linking the pair to the team after failed negotiations between BikeExchange and sponsor Premier Tech.
Fuglsang is a two-time winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné, winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2019, and was third overall at the Tour de Suisse this season. Although he turns 37 next March, he says, "I still have some big wins left in me".
"I'm very happy and excited to join ISN. I believe it's a good time for me to try something new and I believe that ISN and I can benefit a lot from each other," he said in the team's press release." I think that I can make good use of my experience in the team and help the team to reach some of its future goals."
Fuglsang had his best Grand Tour finish this season with sixth at the Giro d'Italia but has his eyes on the 2022 Tour de France, which begins in his home country.
"Of course, the Tour de France Grand Depart from Denmark next year will be a big goal."
Israel Start-Up Nation general manager Kjell Carlstrom says said the addition of Fuglsang "is definitely broadening our possibilities for great results, especially in week-long stage races", while team co-owner Sylvan Adams called Fuglsang "a proven winner" and a replacement for Dan Martin, who retired.
Houle, the reigning Canadian time trial champion, joins the country's road race champion Guillaume Boivin and two other Canadians, Michael Woods and Alex Cataford on the team.
"We go way back, as I personally raced against Hugo when he was a Junior," Adams said. "Later, Hugo raced for the Canadian Spidertech Pro Conti team, which I supported. Hugo has developed into a fine pro, and, as I expressed to him after he signed with us."
Houle said the contract gives hime "new motivation" for next season.
"I am really excited to join ISN. I want to thank Sylvan Adams for this opportunity to come home. It's natural to join him, as he contributed to developing Canadian cycling with the Spidertech team and support in the World Championships. I'm sure the team will provide me with the best environment to keep progressing as a rider in the coming season and contribute to ISN's success."
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