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ISN’s heroic racing in spectacular Paris-Roubaix results in 8th and 9th

If we had to describe every single noteworthy moment in this year’s Paris-Roubaix (ISN’s first one ever), this race report would be a novel or a thriller. Therefore, we’re summing it up:

There were mud pools, treacherous cobbles, plenty of rain, unavoidable punctures, crashes, comebacks, attacks and counterattacks, and, most of all, an impressive Israel Start-Up Nation – from the gun.

 

They were hardly recognizable, barely distinguishable one from another, the competitors in Paris-Roubaix right after the first cobbled sector. Their faces expressed pain and suffering in their purest forms. Their kits, with the team colors covered in mud, were as brown as the farm fields they were riding through and their bikes were even dirtier, like pigs that had been playing in dirt pools. This Paris-Roubaix was worse than the regular ‘hell of the north’.

 

A fantastic Tom van Asbroeck was ISN’s top-finisher, ending up in eighth position. “This was the hardest day of my career, and that’s an understatement. In general, Paris-Roubaix is a very tough race, but with these conditions, it’s another level. The mud pools, the rain, and how treacherous the cobbles were, made it so incredibly hard,” he said after the finish.

 

Team Israel Cycling Academy
118th Paris-Roubaix 2021 (1.UWT)
One day race from Compiègne to Roubaix (FRA) (257.7km)
©kramon

Van Asbroeck made it into the early breakaway and turned out to be one of the strongest of the 31 riders in the front. The family man, with his face covered in mud, rode over the cobbles like the road was freshly paved.

 

Behind him, it was two strong oxen bringing Vanmarcke back to the group of the peloton before Trouée d’Arenberg (100 km to go in the race) after a mechanical. Their names: Guillaume Boivin and Jenthe Biermans.

 

Team Israel Cycling Academy
118th Paris-Roubaix 2021 (1.UWT)
One day race from Compiègne to Roubaix (FRA) (257.7km)
©kramon

The Canadian champion himself fought into a second group with big names on that same cobbled section, showing off the Canadian national jersey (or what was still visible of it) in an extraordinary way. Bad luck then stroke Biermans, as he was caught behind a crash at a crucial point in the race.

 

Vanmarcke himself experienced highs and lows throughout the day, easily capable of following dangerous moves but having to fight back after lots of bad luck.

 

“I am proud of the team. Personally, I am disappointed that I could not deliver what I wanted,” he said.

 

Paris Roubaix 2021 -118th Edition – Denain – Roubaix 257,7 km – 03/10/2021 – Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

Only on Mons-en-Pévèle, one of the hardest sectors, and after having already spent over 150 kilometers in the break, Van Asbroeck had to let the very front of the race go.

 

On the approach to another very hard sector, the Carrefour de l’Arbre, it nearly all came together at the front of the race. Unfortunately, that’s where things took a turn for the worse for team ISN, who had two of the five riders at the front of the race.

 

Boivin slipped away and lost connection. Van Asbroeck dropped as well. They joined the chasing group, still being in the game for one of the most memorable results in their respective careers.

 

“When I dropped, I just could not push any harder. I was empty”, Van Asbroeck said.

 

Boivin: “I just slipped away on one of the sections. I kept fighting afterward because I had amazing legs the whole day. That was disappointing because I do not get the chance to fight for the victory in a monument.”

 

Van Asbroeck was our top finisher in eighth. Boivin finished ninth, with a seriously bruised wrist.

 

Sports Director Dirk Demol: “I am so proud. And flabbergasted at the same time. I don’t have words. I need to let this sink in.”

 

Later he said: “Fantastic, also particularly from the staff!”

Photos: Sjors Beukeboom, Kramon Velophoto, Bettini Photos

#ParisRoubaix #YallaISN

 

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Clarke climbs to 8th on explosive Tour of Britain stage 4

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) powered to the Tour of Britain stage 4 victory, beating Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) into 2nd place with Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up) rounding out the podium.

Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain was the longest of the race, covering 210km from Aberaeron to Llandudno. There was also a fair amount of climbing in the final half of the stage, with two short sharp climbs placed in the final 7km.

The tough nature of the course meant it would be an important stage for the GC men and the punchy climber specialists in the bunch. For Team Qhubeka NextHash, this meant Simon Clarke would be the go-to-guy for the day.

An early break did animate the beginning of the stage, and a few opportunists did also try their luck by jumping across the lead group with around 60km to go, but the up and down finale ensured the likes of Jumbo-Visma, Ineos and Deceuninck-Quickstep kept the pressure on at the front of the race.

Team Qhubeka NextHash played its first card with 35km to go, as Mauro Schmid attacked on one of the hills outside of Llandudno. He was joined by two others, but they never got more than 25 seconds before being caught with 19km remaining.

The peloton stayed together until the penultimate climb but the battle to reach the foot of the hill was intense. Team Qhubeka NextHash did a fine job though, looking after Clarke into the climb, Giacomo Nizzolo and Carlos Barbero in particular doing some fantastic work to keep their teammate in the top 10 places.

An acceleration over the top of the climb by Movistar was again shut down, just before the final 2km climb to the line began. Riders were greeted with an explosive gradient of 18% and it was here where the favourites made their moves.

Van Aert was matched by Alaphilppe and Woods right up to the line, the Belgian champion just having enough to edge the World Champion into 2nd. Clarke fought valiantly and brought home a credible 8th place finish on the stage, 16 seconds behind Van Aert.

It was a pretty good day. The team was pretty keen to bounce back after an unfortunate day yesterday, with the crash in the TTT. The plan was to look after me all day and I would do what I can in the final. I had the full support from the team and I have to say it was super teamwork. I really appreciated everyone’s help, they all did their job and each person made a difference. I had great help in the lead out to the climb which was crucial with the final climb being so steep. Every meter you were behind the front was a disadvantage so I got dropped off in the perfect position without having to use much energy at all, which was really good. I did my best, getting up the wall as best as possible. 8th place, happy with that and happy to get a top 10 for the team and hopefully we can keep building upon the positivity.

Simon Clarke

— Damian to teamqhubeka.com

Dan Martin claims 8th place on stage 15 of the Tour de France

Israel Start-Up Nation was in the heart of the action once again on stage 15 of the Tour de France, with both Dan Martin and Michael Woods being part of the winning breakaway. Ultimately, Martin finished the day in 8th place as the best ISN rider on the stage.

With four challenging climbs and 35 KOM points up for grabs, today’s stage was deemed to set the scene for another nail-biting fight for the polka dot jersey. Woods, riding in the jersey, was the first rider to attack. However, it took a while for the breakaway to establish itself and when it did, it turned out to be a huge group of over 30 riders.

Michael Woods riding in the KOM jersey on home roads in Andorra

Both Martin and Woods had made it into the front group, with Woods putting up a brave fight on the climbs to score KOM points. However, at the end of the stage, the polka dot jersey went to Wout Poels [Bahrain Victorious], and Woods is now second in the competition.

Riding on their adopted home roads in Andorra, both Woods and Martin knew the terrain very well. On the final climb, the front group started to split up on the steep slopes towards the top. Sepp Kuss [Jumbo-Visma] soloed away to take the win, while Martin crossed the line not long after, in eighth place.

Dan Martin: “With so many strong guys in the breakaway, I think this may go down as one of the strongest breakaways in the Tour de France. As a team, we had two objectives today: the KOM jersey and the stage win. Mike and I tried our best, I just didn’t have the legs on the last climb. We lost the polka dot jersey but it’s still really close and I think it’s going to be a close battle all the way to Paris. I really like riding with Mike. We work well together, and we have a really good relationship. Now, we are going to enjoy the rest day tomorrow and then make a plan for the final week.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com