Israel Start-Up Nation’s January training camp in Israel has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The team will instead gather in Girona, Spain, this month, although new signing Chris Froome will not be in attendance, opting to stay in California for further rehab and strength work.
Israel entered a third national lockdown last week amid soaring infection rates, with the country’s borders closed to foreign visitors. That has made it impossible to welcome a squad featuring 16 different nationalities into the country for the traditional first team-building camp.
While the team hope to hold the trip in February or March, they will kick off their 2021 season preparations in Girona next week with a 10-day camp.
"We will hold a preliminary pre-season training camp in Spain, as it was impossible to confidently hold the camp in Israel, as we usually do, due to the COVID restrictions and with the borders closed to non-Israelis. So, we intend to do a second camp in Israel as soon as possible," said team co-owner Sylvan Adams.
"We look forward to showcasing ISN’s home country to the riders, especially to our new signings who haven’t attended one of our Israeli training camps in the past. It will be a mixture of riding Israel’s diverse terrain, as well as visiting our world-class tourist and historical sites. These camps have been a big hit with the riders in the past, and we will maintain the tradition of introducing our riders and staff to the team’s home country."
The team will be without marquee signing Froome for their first get-together of 2021 in Girona, as the four-time Tour de France champion continues his comeback from the career-threatening injuries he sustained in June 2019. Froome is currently in California and has been allowed to remain there to continue his preparations for the season.
"Chris Froome has made great progress with both his rehab and strength work to rebalance his body since his significant injury," said head of performance Paulo Saldanha.
"After our internal assessment and discussion, we felt it was important for him to continue in his current environment in California. We feel this is most conducive for continuing his progress both on and off the bike."
The Girona training camp will feature a number of coronavirus restrictions, including the division of the squad into groups, according to their race programmes. There will be three groups: one for the stage racers, one for Classics riders, and another for sprinters.
"We need to give them the chance to train and learn how to achieve their different goals together. It is critical, with so many new riders and the new goals we have in front of us," said team manager Kjell Carlstrom.
While Froome will not be present, fellow new signings Michael Woods, Sep Vanmarcke, Patrick Bevin, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Daryl Impey, and Patrick Bevin are set to be there.
Froome is expected to lead the team at the Tour de France as he hunts a record-equalling fifth title. He was due to begin his campaign in Argentina at the Vuelta a San Juan but it is unclear whether the race will feature international teams due to coronavirus restrictions.
Israel Start-Up Nation confirmed that their European campaign will begin at Challenge Mallorca in late January, with the selected riders traveling directly from the Girona camp.
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