Danish rider Mads Würtz Schmidt has signed a two-year contract that will keep him with his Israel Start-Up Nation squad until the end of 2022, the team announced on Sunday. The 26-year-old Classics and time trial specialist will target the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix – the two most prestigious spring Classics, which will this year take place in late October due to the season having been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Würtz Schmidt only joined the Israeli WorldTour team this season from Katusha-Alpecin, but says that he already feels at home, and is looking forward to racing with the team for at least the next two-and-a-half years.
"I'm now in a team where everything is great, and in which I can grow," he said on the team's website. "My goal with this team is to win a Classic and perform in one-day-races, as well as in smaller stage races. I want to ride 'finals', and race for victories."
While Würtz Schmidt is the only Danish rider on the roster, one of his sports directors is fellow Dane and former pro Nicki Sørensen.
"We didn't know each other before [meeting at] ISN, but we just understood each other," said Würtz Schmidt. "We share the same mentality, and he's great to talk to – also regarding private issues – and we changed some details in my training schedule over the winter. I felt the improvements right away."
The former junior and under-23 time trial world champion began the 2020 season with his new team at the Challenge Mallorca in late January, and went on to ride the Volta au Algarve and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February.
At Paris-Nice in March – the last major stage race before the season was put on hold – Würtz Schmidt finished sixth on stage 2 from Chevreuse to Chalette-sur-Loing, and followed it up with ninth place the next day on stage 3 to La Châtre, but was ultimately a non-finisher of the race as the team pulled out after stage 6, citing worries about the then growing COVID-19 crisis.
If Würtz Schmidt starts at Flanders on October 18, it will be his first participation in the race, while he's ridden Roubaix – which takes place on October 25 – for the past three seasons, with a best finish of 34th last year. A week before Flanders, he'll also be getting married.
"I'll enjoy that evening, and forget about everything for one night," he said, "and I'll go on a double honeymoon: one with my future wife and one to the spring Classics with Israel Start-Up Nation."
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