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Israel Cycling Academy sign James Piccoli

James Piccoli
James Piccoli signed with Israel Cycling Academy
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Israel Cycling Academy have signed their first rider since taking over the Katusha-Alpecin team and moving to the WorldTour, announcing today they've added Canadian James Piccoli for next season.

The 28-year-old Canadian, who rode for Elevate-KHS the past three seasons, captured the team's attention in August at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, where he won the opening prologue time trial and finished second overall at Israel Cycling Academy's Ben Hermans.

"I had a lot of teams interested in signing me, but I chose ICA because of their belief in me and the amazing staff that they have," Piccoli said.

"They really believe that I can be a great rider one day and offered me an environment where I can adjust to European racing while helping the team out as best I can," he said. 

Piccoli has spent the majority of his career racing in North America, although he rode with Italian team Amore & Vita in 2014. He moved to Canadian team H&R Block the following season, then jumped to Elevate-KHS in 2017.

Aside from his Tour of Utah result, Piccoli counts among his palmares overall wins at the 2018 Tour de Beauce and the 2019 Tour of the Gila. He also took the overall win at the 2017 Tour of the Southland in New Zealand. 

In 2019, he won a stage at the Tour of Taiwan and was second overall, was second at the Joe Martin Stage Race, won Gila, won the Mont Megantic stage in Beauce and finished second overall there, and he was second overall in Utah.

“After a great season for James we are sure he can still progress and be a very valuable team member for ICA's first year in the WorldTour," said Israel Cycling Academy manager Kjell Carlstrom. "James has some great climbing legs, but his qualities go beyond that, and he can prove to be a versatile rider."

Piccoli started talks with the team before Israel Cycling Academy made the jump to the WorldTour, and now he has the opportunity to compete in some of the biggest races in the world.

"I'm a climber/GC rider, so I will probably be the last guy to help Dan [Martin] and Ben [Hermans] in the hard races, and I’ll also look to take my shot at the win in target races when I can," he said.

Jumping from the Continental level to the WorldTour at 28 years old is later than most riders who make the move, but Piccoli came late to competitive cycling after riding recreationally in his youth.

"I started cycling for fun with my dad when I was young, just riding around town and to coffee shops," he said. "I started racing in my early 20s while I was in university studying mechanical engineering. After a bumpy couple of years I finally found a good home at Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, and that’s when I really started to learn my craft and improve."

The new-look Israel Cycling Academy announced their deal with Katusha-Alpecin earlier this week. The Israeli team took over the management company that ran the Katusha team and so gained their WorldTour license.

Paris-Roubaix runner-up Nils Politt is expected to make the jump to the new Israeli formation, along with several other riders from the 2019 Katusha lineup. What the final roster will look like it not yet known, however.