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Israel Start-Up Nation will host 'Stay at Home' ride on Zwift

Santos Tour Down Under 2020 2nd stage Woodside Stirling 1358 km 22012020 Andre Greipel GER Israel StartUp Nation photo Dario BelingheriBettiniPhoto2020
Andre Greipel will take part in Israel Start-Up Nation's 'Stay at home' ride Friday night on Zwift (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Israel Start-Up Nation will host a virtual team ride Friday evening on Zwift to encourage people around the globe to 'Stay at Home' in a effort to combat the Covid-19 coronavirus.

"Having group rides in uncertain times like these, with the Covid-19 crisis, is a great way for cyclists who love our team," said the team's Guy Sagiv, who is currently confined to his home in Girona. 

"This group ride on Zwift gives everyone the possibility to join us for a ride from their homes. It is important to stay home to fight the virus and ISN/ICA want to give everyone the opportunity to keep enjoying riding bikes. I am excited to join the group ride Friday."

Sagiv, André Greipel and British former UCI Hour Record holder Alex Dowsett will be among the riders participating in the virtual event, which will take place Friday at 20:25 CET (21:25 Israeli time). At least 10 of the team's riders are expected to join the ride.

"It will be a fun ride with the team riders, approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes, but in the last few kilometres the fans will be able to race for the win," the team said in press release announcing the event.

Other Israel Start-Up Nation and Israel Cycling Academy riders joining from their homes all over the world include Belgian Ben Hermans, Latvian Krists Neilands, Swiss Matteo Badilatti, Canadian James Piccoli, Australian Rory Sutherland, Israeli Davidson Lahav, Canadian Robin Plamondon, Czech Daniel Turek and Australian Freddy Ovett.

Participants will be able to follow their wheels and ask them questions – just like a real team ride outside. They can join raffles for jerseys in the days towards the event by following ISN/ICA’s event on Facebook.

The Zwift online platform will enable fans with smart trainers to ride their bikes and be part of the event through their phones, TV or iPad screens.

The WorldTour team's effort – along with the Continental 'academy' team – comes as the 2020 pro cycling season continues to look more in doubt as the reaction to Covid-19 coronavirus deepens.

Millions of cyclists around the world are confined to their homes because authorities in many countries fear that amateur recreational cyclists riding outdoors will only put more burden on already-burdened hospitals.

Pro riders are allowed to ride outdoors in countries like Italy, as some governments recognise it is their occupation – but many are now using home trainers to stay in shape so that they will be ready to race again if the the season picks up again.

Meanwhile, social distancing – minimising contact with others – have become the watchwords as societies try and slow the spread of the now-global pandemic. Israel Start-Up Nation is hoping their event will provide community to the isolated and remind others of the need to behave responsibly.