Two Aussies and one Kiwi in Israel’s cycling 2021 team

December 1, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Israel Start-Up Nation 2021 cycling team will consist of 32 riders from Israel and 16 other countries.

Two Australians, Sebastian Berwick and Taj Jones, and New Zealander Patrick Bevin are among those who have signed for the coming season, including nine new riders headed by four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome. The team plans to arrive in Israel in January for its major pre-season training camp.

The team completed its largest roster yet by handing two-year contract extensions to Canadian Guillaume Boivin and Swiss rider Reto Hollenstein.

The team’s co-owner Sylvan Adams: “Despite COVID-19, Israel Start-Up Nation had a good inaugural season in the WorldTour.  We secured our first victories at this level – including Grand Tour stages.

Our lineup for next year is significantly enhanced, yet it keeps the core group together. We plan to be extremely competitive in the biggest races, including Grand Tours, Monuments, and Classics. Our pre-season training camp will provide an opportunity to bring everyone together and bond as a unit. Exciting times ahead.”

During the past several years, the team has made it a tradition to hold its pre-season training camp in Israel. Taking advantage of the country’s typically comfortable winter weather, the camp is also a chance to underscore the team’s Israeli roots and its vision to promote Israel as a cycling destination. Although the coronavirus crisis will make the training camp a more complicated task this year, the team is determined to do everything possible to hold the ten-day camp, which will include bonding activities and touring the country.

“We see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel, and we feel confident that we can hold the camp and ensure the health and safety of our riders and staff,” added Ido Shavit, the new CEO of Israel Cycling Academy.

Team Manager Kjell Carlstrom, who was the main force behind building the roster, expressed his satisfaction with the lineup assembled.

He told media:”It will be fascinating to see how well we can perform up against the established big teams. We have a balanced roster in the sense that we can get results in all types of races, but our strongest chances will be at stage races. We are still underdogs for overall General Classification (race leadership) victories, but we can be in the mix for General Classification podiums. In the next few weeks, we’ll sit down and establish a game plan for that.”

Carlstrom revealed that a meeting of the team’s directors to discuss strategy, tactics, riders, and race programs will take place in Girona, Spain on December 12th, lasting several days.

Carlstrom expressed his delight with the extensions handed to Boivin And Hollenstein, noting that Guillaume worked tirelessly for other riders during the year. He is an important teammate in several types of races and will be an integral piece of the team support structure next year.

“Reto has consistently shown his excellent teamwork throughout the year, and he brings a lot of experience. At the same time, he shows colossal commitment and motivation to continue being a perfect teammate – this is very valuable for any team.”

Guillaume Boivin, who has been a cornerstone of the team since arriving in 2017.  He said: I’ve been part of the team almost from the beginning. I’m amazed at the giant steps we’ve taken every year and I’m very excited to be reunited with my good friend [fellow Canadian rider] Mike Woods. I hope I’ll get to race with him and support him towards success.

“We have so many substantial additions to an already strong team for 2021. It looks like we will enter all our races with strong ambitions. Of course, Chris Froome brings the team to another level for the Grand Tours – with Dan Martin and Chris, we can expect some fireworks. I think my skill set will be valuable to do the dirty work for those guys. I imagine the Classics will be a big part of my season and with Sep Vanmarcke, we have got a true leader to go to war with. So many exciting things for next year, I’d better work hard in the offseason!”

Reto Hollenstein joined the team last year, coming from Katusha added: “It was a challenging year with the current situation, but I never lost focus and I kept fighting. I am super happy to be part of this team. I am excited about the next season, to race with a strong team and gain from the experience of Chris Froome. The team is going to step up and I am ready to do what’s needed to help.”

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