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Israel Cycling Academy become Israel Start-Up Nation as WorldTour beckons

The 2020 Israel Start-Up Nation roster. (Image credit: Noa Arnon)

Israel Cycling Academy presented their 2020 squad in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, with the team changing name to Israel Start-Up Nation ahead of their first season in the WorldTour.

It has been an off-season of change for the Israeli team, who have taken over Katusha-Alpecin's spot in cycling's top division after the Swiss squad folded at the end of 2019. Seven Katusha riders are among 17 new faces at the team, who have a 30-rider roster for next season. 

The most notable additions, however, come from elsewhere, with German sprinter André Greipel joining after an unsuccessful season at Arkéa-Samsic, and Irishman Dan Martin moving from UAE Team Emirates.

The team have also changed bike supplier for 2020, with Factor Bikes coming on board after two years spent with De Rosa. Italian wine company Vini Fantini also joins as a sponsor after five years as co-title sponsor at the folding Nippo-Vini Fantini team.

"The dream of competing in the Tour de France, almost unthinkable only five years ago when we launched the team, is now coming true," said team co-owner Sylvan Adams. "A professional team with world class Israeli riders alongside the finest international talents, racing with pride in one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.

"Around 3.5 billion viewers in hundreds of countries across the world will see the Israeli flag and hear the message that this is a country bringing unrivalled innovation to the world."

The team's name change comes as part of a new partnership with Start-Up Nation Central, a Tel-Aviv based non-profit organisation created to help Israeli start-up companies. 

"By partnering with Start-Up Nation Central, we are showcasing the Israeli tech eco-system on a global stage, sending a clear message that this is a country with so much to offer the world," said Adams. "I have no doubt that cutting-edge Israeli technology will give our team a competitive advantage as we race against the very best in world cycling."

The new identity also comes with a new look. The old light blue and white colourway is retained, but the jersey is now predominantly white, with a blue strip across the chest and blue sleeves. 

Israel Start-Up Nation's move to the WorldTour marks the culmination of a rapid rise up the ranks for the team, who were founded as Cycling Academy in 2015. The team rode at Continental level for two seasons before moving up to Pro Continental ranks in 2017.

In 2018, they earned a wildcard invitation to the Giro d'Italia, which started in Israel. Last season they returned to the race, and also rode a number of other WorldTour events, including Il Lombardia, Milan-San Remo and La Flèche Wallonne.

"There are no illusions on our part: WorldTour races are very hard and the teams are top level. We need to be ready and be competitive and race hard every single race and score points," said directeur sportif Kjell Carlström. "We are determined to climb in the rankings as far as possible."

In addition to the big-name signings of Martin and Greipel, former World Hour Record holder Alex Dowsett joins from Katusha-Alpecin, along with Nils Politt, who finished second at the 2019 Paris-Roubaix. There are also two signings from North America, in the form of 2019 Tour of Utah runner-up James Piccoli and Travis McCabe, points classification winner at the same race.

Departing riders include Ruben Plaza, who retires, and Kristian Sbaragli, who is heavily linked with a move to Mathieu van der Poel's Corendon squad.

In addition to the WorldTour squad, the team will also run a Continental development team in 2020, featuring 16 riders from around the world. Eight Israeli riders feature, as well as riders from Canada, the Czech Republic, Australia, Morocco, Colombia and Sweden.

Israel Start-Up Nation 2020 roster

  • Matteo Badilatti
  • Rudy Barbier
  • Jenthe Biermans
  • Guillaume Boivin
  • Matthias Brändle
  • Alexander Cataford
  • Davide Cimolai
  • Alex Dowsett
  • Itamar Einhorn
  • Omer Goldstein
  • André Greipel
  • Ben Hermans
  • Hugo Hofstetter
  • Reto Holenstein
  • Dan Martin
  • Travis McCabe
  • Daniel Navarro
  • Krists Neilands
  • Guy Niv
  • James Piccoli
  • Nils Politt
  • Mihkel Räim
  • Alexis Renard
  • Guy Sagiv
  • Patrick Schelling
  • Rory Sutherland
  • Norman Vahtra
  • Tom Van Asbroeck
  • Mads Würtz Schmidt
  • Rick Zabel

Israel Cycling Academy Continental Team 2020 roster

  • Edo Goldstein
  • Yuval Ben Moshe
  • Sanad Abu Fares
  • Omer Lahav
  • Eitan levi
  • Lahav Davidson
  • Ido Bear
  • Shlomi Haimy
  • Benjamin Perry
  • Carson Miles
  • Robin Plamondon
  • Daniel Turek
  • Freddy Ovett
  • El Mehdi Chokri
  • Edwin Ávila
  • Awet Gebremedhin