Omer Goldstein (Israel Start-Up Nation) will be lining up for his first Tour de France later this month but first he’ll be on the road defending his national title with the rider, who is far from reluctant to go out and take a chance on the break, hoping he’ll be able to put the Israeli champions jersey on display during his debut.
The 24 year old will be part of the squad supporting rider Michael Woods, with the Canadian's building form resulting in a fifth place at both the Tour de Suisse and Tour de Romandie, while four-time Tour de France champion, Chris Froome, will be taking the role of road captain.
“I love to be part of the game,” said Goldstein in a statement. “Of course, the Tour de France is the biggest race of all, and the stress in the peloton will be different. But I am confident that I am ready to help the team and have an impact on our quest to support Mike and get a stage win.”
Going to the Tour is “a dream I had since I was a kid. I always imagined myself being there in the front in a mountain stage breakaway, going for it, not really concerned if they catch me or not, as long as I am going full gas and giving it all.”
Last year teammate Guy Niv became the first Israeli to race the Tour de France while Goldstein took on his first Grand Tour, the 2020 Vuelta a España, riding in support of Dan Martin who finished in fourth place.
“He is always ready to jump on a challenge with absolutely no fear. But much beyond that, we selected Omer because he can give the team a lot in the Tour in so many ways,” said Rik Verbrugghe, Israel Start-Up Nation’s sports manager. “Of course, his main task will be to assist our leader, Mike Woods, but he can be our man in a breakaway and, if the opportunity comes, he can get a great result. And in mid-range mountain stages, he can be there in a selected group going to the finish.”
It will be the team’s second year racing the Tour de France, and while earlier expectations may have been that the squad would be riding in support of Froome, he acknowledged at the Critérium du Dauphiné that he didn’t have the form required to compete for a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey this year. Froome will, however, line up at the race with the team using his experience to advantage in the role of road captain. Goldstein, for one, thinks he can also still make a mark on the race.
“I respect him so much, he has been a quiet mentor ...,” said Goldstein. “He is such a great fighter. Never underestimate him. He is on the up and I believe can surprise in the Tour.”
Before the team sets foot in France, however, there is a national championship title to defend, with Goldstein already having swept up the honours in the individual time trial last week. The Israeli championships road race is on Saturday.
“I want to represent my country in the Tour, wearing the champions jersey,” said Omer. “I will do my best to defend my title Saturday, but I can guarantee nothing. My Israeli teammates will do everything to win it, and that’s how it should be.”
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