Premier Tech has been confirmed as the joint sponsor of the Israel Start-Up Nation squad for 2022. The WorldTour team, founded by Sylvan Adams and containing four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, will race as Israel-Premier Tech this season after the partnership was confirmed on Thursday.
The deal has been in the works for several months after Premier Tech announced last year that it would step away from its commitment to support and co-sponsor Astana.
The Canadian company was linked with several other squads ahead of 2022, including Rally Cycling and Qhubeka NextHash, and came within a whisker of joining forces with Team BikeExchange last Autumn before the deal was scrapped at the last minute.
At that point, it looked as though Premier Tech would bide its time before returning to the sport at a later date but it helped transfer Jakob Fuglsang and Hugo Houle from Astana to the Israel project ahead of this season, along with staff members including directeur sportif Steve Bauer.
It was rumoured that Premier Tech would be unveiled at some point in the first half of the year – possibly ahead of the Tour de France – but that announcement appears to have been moved forward and ratified by the sport’s governing body in the last 48 hours.
"With the presence of all four Israelis, and five of the six Canadians competing in the UCI WorldTour, this team is, in many ways, a reflection of my two nationalities,” Adams said in a statement sent to the media on Thursday.
“As a Canada-based, international company, Premier Tech is a natural partner for us, and we are the natural home for Premier Tech. I am proud that Jean Bélanger and Premier Tech have joined our project. Premier Tech will help us reach the lofty goals we’ve set for this team, and I am thrilled to welcome Premier Tech as co-title sponsor and unveil our new jersey today.
“I wish to also express my gratitude to Tel Aviv-based Start-Up Nation Central, for their trust and support these last two years," he added. "And, although they will not be a title sponsor, I am pleased that SNC will continue to support the team, while generating exposure around the world where Israel-Premier Tech races for the Israeli start-ups SNC nurtures and supports."
Adams has been on the lookout for a second title sponsor for some time, telling Cyclingnews last summer that he would welcome another brand on the jersey, but that Israel would remain as the lead name. That stance has remained, and for Premier Tech, there is now a sustainable future within cycling with a more like-minded partner.
The Canadian firm was initially excited after being confirmed as joint sponsors at Astana, but the brand had serious reservations over Alexandre Vinokourov and his management. He was forced to step aside, only to be reinstated on the team a few months later, at which point it was clear that the relationship between Astana and Premier Tech was unsustainable.
In his statement, Bélanger, who was present at the team's post-season camp last October, described the deal with Israel and Adams as the perfect fit for both organisations.
"When it came time to decide Premier Tech’s next chapter in UCI WorldTour cycling, we were determined to take our time to find the best possible fit for a long-term partnership. From the moment I started conversations with Sylvan Adams, whom I have known for many years, it was clear we saw things in common and shared a vision," said Bélanger.
"Through the course of our discussions and interactions between Sylvan and myself, as well as other leaders from the team, that feeling was reinforced and led us to make this announcement today.
"The team already has a solid Canadian presence as well as a strong international focus, which was a crucial factor for a company like Premier Tech, which has some 5000 team members in 28 countries and a commercial presence in more than a hundred. We are all very excited here at Premier Tech to hit the ground running in 2022 as Israel-Premier Tech in what, I am sure, will be a successful year for our team."
Along with the signings of Houle and Fuglsang, the team have strengthened their roster with the signing of Giacomo Nizzolo and Corbin Strong for 2022. The Italian won a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2021 and will lead the line in the sprints.
The team said goodbye to both Daniel Martin and André Greipel, with both riders retiring at the end of last season, and they are set to back Chris Froome at the Tour de France with the veteran rider still searching for his fifth title.
"2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Israel-Premier Tech," said general manager Kjell Carlström. "As a team, we have always aimed to grow with each year and now, after two years at the UCI WorldTour level, we are embarking on a significant new chapter with the arrival of Premier Tech.
"We have added some important names to our rider roster, in addition to an already strong team, and together with partners Sylvan Adams, Ron Baron, Kevin Ham, and Jean Bélanger from Premier Tech, we believe we can aim for an ambitious first season as Israel-Premier Tech, building on what has been a successful trajectory for Israel’s first professional cycling team."
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