Fuglsang and Houle join ISN in 2022

  • Danish GC strongman and “proven winner” Jakob Fuglsang joins ISN.
  • The team has also signed Canadian TT champion Hugo Houle.
  • ISN Co-Owner Sylvan Adams: “We are delighted to sign a proven winner – Fuglsang, and a fine pro – Houle.”
  • ISN’s team manager Kjell Carlstrom: “Fuglsang is one of the leading GC riders. This signing will significantly strengthen us.”
  • Fuglsang: “I still got big wins left in me!”
  • Houle: “Feels like I am coming home.”

Israel Start-Up Nation is strengthening its roster with the signings of Jakob Fuglsang and Hugo Houle who will join the team in 2022. Both riders have signed a three-year contract with ISN.

“We are constantly looking for ways to strengthen our team, and with these two new riders, we feel we have accomplished that,” ISN’s general manager Kjell Carlstrom says. “For a few years, Jakob Fuglsang has been up there with the best GC riders in the world, and he still is. To add another rider to our GC team with such capacities is definitely broadening our possibilities for great results, especially in week-long stage races. And with Hugo, we have got a strong helper who has shown how valuable he can be for his teammates, getting the team in the correct position at the right time.”

Jakob Fuglsang. Credit: Bettini Photo

As a renowned stage racer and winner of multiple Monuments, Fuglsang (36) needs no introduction. The versatile Dane has been among the very top riders for over a decade and he’s far from finished. As a vital part of the strong GC group on ISN next year, Fuglsang aims to return to his best level in 2022 to win races and help his teammates succeed.

Jakob Fuglsang: “I’m very happy and excited to join ISN. I believe it’s a good time for me to try something new and I believe that ISN and I can benefit a lot from each other. I think that I can make good use of my experience in the team and help the team to reach some of its future goals. I’m convinced that I still have some big wins left in me and, of course, the Tour de France Grand Depart from Denmark next year will be a big goal.”

ISN’s Co-Owner, Sylvan Adams, expressed his enthusiasm about the additions of Fuglsang and Houle, and his confidence that they will bolster the team roster: “Jakob is a proven winner, with wins in Monuments, stage races and Grand Tour stages. On ISN, he will essentially be replacing a rider with quite similar qualities, the great Dan Martin, who is retiring after this year.”

Adams also welcomed fellow Canadian, Houle: “We go way back, as I personally raced against Hugo when he was a Junior (he was super strong). Later, Hugo raced for the Canadian SpiderTech Pro Conti team, which I supported. Hugo has developed into a fine pro, and, as I expressed to him after he signed with us, he’s come home and will race with his fellow Canadian buddies, Mike Woods and Guillaume Boivin. Welcome to ISN Jacob and Hugo!”

Houle (31) is known as a strong rouleur, able to shine in most terrains, as well as an invaluable teammate for his designated leaders. He is also the reigning Canadian time trial champion, meaning that ISN will have both Canadian champion jerseys on the team next year as Guillaume Boivin won the road race last month.

The 2022 campaign will be Houle’s 12th season in the professional peloton after starting his career on the Canadian SpiderTech team in 2011, thereby coming full circle as SpiderTech is also an import partner for Israel Start-Up Nation.

Hugo Houle: “After four years at team Astana-Premier Tech, this new challenge brought me a new motivation for the coming season. I am really excited to join ISN. I want to thank Sylvan Adams for this opportunity to come home. It’s natural to join him, as he contributed to developing Canadian cycling with the SpiderTech team and support in the World Championships. I’m sure the team will provide me with the best environment to keep progressing as a rider in the coming season and contribute to ISN’s success.”

Hugo Houle Credit: Bettini Photo

— Tsadok to israelcyclingacademy.com

Spring Classic in Autumn: Vanmarcke leads ISN in a postponed edition of Paris-Roubaix

Sep Vanmarcke will be ISN’s first pick in Paris-Roubaix, next Sunday, the third of October. Together with the Belgian cobbles specialist, we are looking ahead to one of the biggest and hardest classics in professional cycling.

It will be the team’s very first Paris-Roubaix.

Normally, Paris-Roubaix is the final highlight of a series of cobbled classics early in the season. This year, however, it is rather ‘lonely’ on the calendar, being held on October 3rd, making Paris-Roubaix an Autumn instead of a Spring Classic.

Sep Vanmarcke, therefore, expects an interesting edition of the highly anticipated race. “Normally, this race is the last cobbled classic after a long period of Spring Classics, but now it is on its own, at the end of the cycling calendar. That will feature different racing. Some riders might already be looking forward to off-season after a long period of racing, while others might be even stronger than they normally are in spring.”

Vuelta Espana 2021 – 76th Edition – 16th stage Laredo – Santa Cruz de Bezana 180 km – 31/08/2021 – Sep Vanmarcke (BEL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2021

Then, there’s the weather forecast. It might very well be raining in the north of France next Sunday. The experienced Classic specialist Vanmarcke knows that racing on cobbles in the rain is a different discipline than racing on cobbles in the sun. “It could the first Paris-Roubaix in rainy conditions in a long time, since 2002 if I remember correctly”, Vanmarcke says.

It would be the first, rainy edition of the classic for most of the peloton, including Vanmarcke. “I have raced on cobbles in wet conditions before, but not Paris-Roubaix. Indeed, things get more slippery, technical, and treacherous.”

Rain or no rain, Israel Start-Up Nation did showcase, in the last few one-day races, that it is ready for Paris-Roubaix. “We finished multiple times in the top-10 with different riders in races that can be seen as a warm-up to Paris-Roubaix. That will definitely give us confidence towards Sunday,” says the Belgian.

He continues: “Apart from having a good line-up for this race, the Factor bike is ready, too. We did some recon rides last week on the course, and I tested out some of our material. I know which Maxxis tires I want to run and how much pressure is comfortable on the cobbles.”

Sports Director Dirk Demol, who won Paris-Roubaix in 1988, will cover the 257-kilometer race by car, directing the team over the cobbled sections. He says that doing the recon last week gave the team a lot of information. “Definitely material-wise, as Sep explained, but also about the condition of the sectors. Some of them have moss and grass in between the cobbles, which make them extra slippery. The farmers have already started harvesting their fields, meaning that there are sectors with mud on them.”

“I speak from experience”, he continues, “when it is wet, and now especially in this part of the season, it is going to be very treacherous. I did Paris-Roubaix in wet conditions, and it is another kind of race.”

Israel Start-Up Nation’s line-up for Paris-Roubaix (03/10):

  • Rudy Barbier
  • Hugo Hofstetter
  • Jenthe Biermans
  • Tom Van Asbroeck
  • Sep Vanmarcke
  • Guillaume Boivin
  • Mads Würtz Schmidt

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Versatile ISN lineup for Cro Race

Israel Start-Up Nation brings a strong team able to shine in all terrain for this year’s Cro Race, starting on Tuesday, September 28.

The six days stage race presents several chances for the sprinters but also for those who are good on the climbs. Especially the penultimate stage, to Opatija, will be crucial for the general classification with several ascents to overcome, amongst them the 13.2 km long HC climb Poklon.

Fresh off his impressive win on the final stage of Tour de Slovaquie, Itamar Einhorn hopes to continue his good streak and fight for victory in the bunch sprints, while Krists Neilands and Carl Fredrik Hagen will be the team’s leaders for the general classification.

Sports director, René Andrle: “We come to Cro Race with a powerful team. For the sprints, we have Itamar [Einhorn] who’s getting better and better these days and who took a beautiful win in Slovakia recently. We have a strong leadout here and we will go all in for him in the sprints. We also have two strong cards to play in the GC with Krists [Neilands] and Carl [Fredrik Hagen]. However, we don’t have the usual uphill finish this year, so it will be difficult to predict how the race will evolve. In any case, our goal is to win a stage and do well in the GC.”

Itamar Einhorn: “I have never done this race before so I don’t really know what to expect but I know there are several stages for the sprinters. I feel good at the moment and I have a strong team to support me in the sprints. I’m really motivated to finish off the season with another good result.”

Carl Fredrik Hagen: “Cro Race will be an exciting race. It’s not a regular stage race with an uphill finish to settle the GC. However, there are several long stages and multiple challenging ascents. Plus, it’s at the end of the season, so it will be hard to predict what will happen. I have a bit of a free role on the team, giving me the opportunity to go for both the breakaways and try something at the end of the stages if I see an opening. For me, it’s also just nice to be back racing with the team again after my crash. We are working very well together and I’m really looking forward to this week of racing.”

— Mikkel to israelcyclingacademy.com

Hermans to stay with ISN for two more years: ‘I am far from done’

Israel Start-Up Nation has signed Ben Hermans for two more years. ISN’s all-rounder won numerous stage races in the blue and white colors of the Israeli team, including during this season, and has strong ambitions to continue winning bike races.

This marks the first time that Hermans gets the chance to stay longer than four years on one team. “Adding two more seasons will make it six years with Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of 2023. It is proof that I feel very comfortable on this team.”

The Belgian rider says he gets along well with his colleagues and the staff of Israel Start-Up Nation. “I like the atmosphere here, and I am very satisfied with the material we use from our sponsors. I really did not want to change teams in 2022.”

Hermans evolved into a winner at ISN

Kjell Carlström, ISN’s general manager, says that 35-year-old Hermans has grown into his role since he joined ISN in 2018. “He has found the place where he can perform really well.”

Carlström is right because at Israel Start-Up Nation Hermans evolved into a winner.

The climber and ITT specialist only had one GC victory before coming to ISN, and in the blue and white kit, Hermans won the Tour of Utah, the Arctic Race of Norway, and the Tour of Austria twice. He also won numerous stages in these three stage races.

This year alone Hermans won the Giro dell’Appennino after an impressive solo effort, the individual time trial in Poitou Charentes and the team time trial in Coppi e Bartali.

‘I am competitive, and far from done’

Hermans points out that he has shown that he is still competitive. “And I am far from done,” he adds. “I am ambitious, and I am sure I can find nice goals for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.”

Carlström: “We are looking forward to seeing Hermans continue to achieve great successes and to reach all the team’s and his individual goals.”

The Belgian concludes: “I am more than happy that, again, the team has shown confidence in me for two more years. I am motivated to make the most of it.”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

ISN makes it through challenging Vuelta a España

Guy Niv finishes as best ISN rider on the final stage of Vuelta a España 2021.

Vuelta a España 2021 concluded this Sunday with an individual time trial to Santiago de Compostela. Israel Start-Up Nation finished the race with three riders, after a crash-marred edition of the Spanish Grand Tour.

ISN started out the race with big ambitions but after suffering a series of bad crashes, seeing no less than five riders abandon the race, the final week of the Vuelta was all about surviving and making it though.

In the end, Sebastian Berwick (21), James Piccoli (30), and Guy Niv (27) were the three riders to make it all the way to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela. For Berwick, this was his first-ever Grand Tour, while Piccoli now has two Grand Tours under his belt. For Niv, the Vuelta was the second Grand Tour the strong Israeli did this year, after also finishing the Giro d’Italia.

Sebastian Berwick: “The highlight of my Vuelta was getting into the breakaway on stage 12. That was a pretty cool experience for my first Grand Tour. Unfortunately, we had many low points with all the crashes. The whole last week has been a big struggle for me and I’m pretty happy to have made it through this Vuelta. Despite losing five riders, we always kept the morale high and I’m proud of being part of this group.”

James Piccoli: “Despite all our bad luck, it was amazing to see how our staff and all the people around us always worked so hard and helped us keep the atmosphere good. That and having my family visit during these last days and have them seeing me race in Europe for the first time were the big highlights for me. In terms of results, I expected more of myself but that’s how bike racing goes sometimes.”

Guy Niv: “The most memorable moment for me was stage 15 where I managed to bridge across and be part of a super strong breakaway on a hard mountain stage and still stay with the GC riders after we got caught. I’m also really proud of Itamar [Einhorn] who did a very impressive first Grand Tour. He was always there in the sprint stages and I’m proud to have helped him during these days. Losing five riders was not easy for us and this was not our best race but we gave our best and kept fighting all the way towards the end.”

Sports director, Oscar Guerrero: “One important thing that I will remember this Vuelta for is the eagerness and determination the riders showed at the beginning of the race. Without a GC captain it was an open race for everybody so all our riders felt that this was their big opportunity. Unfortunately, we were very unlucky with all the crashes but the guys never gave up and this shows a lot of character and is something we can build on for the future.”

— Mikkel to israelcyclingacademy.com

Brits on Tour – ISN at the Tour of Britain 2021

The Israel Start-Up Nation riders, our DS Cherie Pridham and her support team have travelled pretty much as far south as you can get in England, arriving in Penzance to get ready for the UK’s biggest race of the year. Across the eight stages, the Tour offers something for everyone and the team chosen by Cherie – who is of course the first ever female DS at WorldTour level – brings strength and depth, from Irishman Dan Martin, winner of stages in all three Grand Tours who has just announced his retirement, to young Mason Hollyman in his Tour of Britain debut.

Alongside them will ride one of Britain’s most popular riders and time trial supremo Alex Dowsett; super domestique Reto Hollenstein (the ‘Swiss Skyscraper’, you’ll spot him, he’s 2meters tall) and ever popular Mike Woods who secured Israel Start-Up Nation’s first Tour de France podium earlier this summer. All this talent is topped off with world beating sprinter, Andre Greipel who has, of course, won Tour of Britain stages before… 

Israel Start-Up Nation is not short of experience with some of the world’s most successful riders on the roster, and two of these go into the race having announced their retirements.  Andre will hang up his wheels at the end of 2022 and Dan Martin has called time at the end of the 2021 season.  Dan said of the Tour of Britain: “Even just arriving in the UK felt special as we so rarely get to race here. It’s been four years since I last did the race and I’m excited to race on the roads that I competed on growing up. It’s always a tough test with a high quality field and tough terrain. Hopefully we get to experience the crowds that used to come out as pre-Covid it was always one of the best atmospheres we raced with. We have a strong team and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do everyday. Some stages really suit me and I hope we can be aggressive throughout the week. Form is always a bit unknown this time of year after a long season but I felt good at Plouay so we will do our best and enjoy my last Tour of Britain”.

At the other end of the spectrum, young Mason Hollyman, our 21 year old Yorkshireman, has been selected to race his first Tour of Britain after a strong season: “I’m really looking forward to racing on home roads, it’s a race I’ve grown up watching on TV and going to the roadside with my family, so it’s pretty special to be given this opportunity by the team.  ISN is super strong here so my goal for the race is to do my absolute best for the team in whatever capacity I can, and enjoy racing at home.  It’s been three years since I last raced in the UK, so it’ll be nice to do it again”.

Alex Dowsett said: “I’m very excited to come back to the Tour of Britain. The last time I raced here I came painfully close to winning a stage – ironically it was actually ISN that chased me down, and here we are in an ISN jersey. 

It’s always exciting to race on home roads.  Our team lineup has undergone a few changes, it’s different to our initial plan due to some injuries but it’s great to see Mason stepping up and riding with some of the best on the team in Andre, Mike and Dan, and really experience what it’s like to ride at this level. I’m very excited to see how he gets on.

We’ll be fighting every day for stage wins and a GC result for Woodsy – and just having a good time.  The Tour of Britain does present some challenges in long transfers and early starts but I think we have great morale, it’s a good team, a fun team. I’m just looking forward to seeing some good crowds on the roads again.

And I’m really looking forward to my first race with Cherie as DS too, we’ve not raced together yet so that’s exciting. Brits on tour!”

Stage 1, Sunday 5 September: Penzance to Bodmin (180km)

Eagle-eyed residents of Cornwall may have noticed an extra buzz around town in the last few days, as the international peloton descends for the first stage of the 2021 Tour of Britain.

Stage One is a no-holes-barred, full-on introduction to the dramatic Cornish landscape, taking in both north and south coasts and some of the most stunning scenery in the whole country.  The route promises a punchy start to the Tour and combined with Stage 2, one that could help shape the GC for the entire race.

DS Cherie Pridham said; “We’re starting off with a nice long climb to set the tone and overall this stage is very undulating, with lots of narrow roads too.  Some of it is quite exposed so if we get any wind or rain it’ll change the nature of the racing quite a bit.  Potentially it’s a tricky stage and with the last 5km kicking up quite a bit, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one sees some splits and finishes in a reduced sprint – maybe up to 40 riders will stay together but it’ll be interesting, especially at the last 650m which kicks up again”.

Stage 2, Monday 6 September: Sherford to Exeter (183km)

Onwards to Devon, where local fans will no doubt be keen to watch the three Cat 2 climbs of the day – Strete, Rundlestone and Warren House Inn.  Distance wise, Stage 2 is similar to Stage 1 and again, the day could prove decisive for the final GC.  Three sprints are also on offer including one at Slapton Sands, which, if you studied Geography GCSE in the South West, you may recognise from geography field trips.

It’s a technical day, with plenty of hairpin bends, narrow roads and bridges to cross; after a recce, Cherie says  “This is a classic climbing day on typical Devon roads – very interesting, and potentially a decisive stage for the GC today.  They’ll be paying a lot of attention to their positioning.  The stage has three long, Cat 2 climbs, which we’re used to on the Tour of Britain, but there are also another couple of uncategorised climbs which could affect the front.  I imagine a reduced group by the finish but that will suit the final run in, with a narrow bridge, and a couple of pieces of street furniture too.”

Stage 3, Tuesday 6 September: Carmarthenshire Team Time Trial (18km)

Three days in and the race reaches Wales.  We’ve a strong team for time trials, including of course national champion and Grand Tour ITT stage winner, Alex Dowsett.

Speaking before the race Alex said “The Team Time Trial is going to be a big hit, it’s my main goal. We can certainly be competitive and squeeze everything out of it. Attention to detail is the main thing so I’m really hoping  to be able to help the team in that respect, and limit any damages for GC for Woodsy.”

Cherie says; “By itself, this TTT isn’t too bad – 18km, not too technical, with just a slight drag uphill.  But what will really influence the style of riding is how the GC picture looks at the end of the previous day.   Stage 3 could be one to target, and take the win, or it could be one to conserve and control.  Watch this space!”

Stage 4, Wednesday 8 September: Aberaeron to Great Orme, Llanduno (210km)

The Queen stage and a long one in the saddle, this is a really important day for all riders, especially those chasing GC contention. And again, we take in some of the UK’s most stunning coastal scenery, including beaches and mountains – we recommend the chip shops in Borth – but along the way, two Cat 1 and two Cat 2 climbs.  Coastal winds could also play a part, so too can the microclimate along the coast, where it can be sunny one minute and foggy the next.  It’s a beautiful part of the world and should provide some superb racing.

Cherie says: “As we head further into Wales and the savage climbs of Snowdonia, today could be decisive for the GC.  Again, the results of Stages 1 & 2 will come into play to decide how we race on the day as this is the longest stage and very technical.  When you take into account the tight corners, sharp roads, cattle grids, a couple of level crossings, plus the fact that in the last 50km there are three KOM points – two of them Cat 1s – it’s definitely a day to watch.  There are a couple of points for a potential shake-up and there’s a technical last 25km too with lots of climbing.  Classic Tour of Britain”

Stage 5, Thursday 9 September: Alderley Park to Warrington (152km)

On paper, today’s stage is less fierce than the previous day, but when you look at it from a sprinter’s perspective, it gets a lot more exciting. And when you have one of the world’s top sprinters on your team….even more so.  Andre Griepel has a fair bit of experience racing on British roads and has won sprint stages of the Tour of Britain in the past – and, having announced his retirement at the end of the 2022 season, could Stage 5 add to his record-breaking tally of 158 pro wins, the most of any active rider?

Cherie’s view on the stage; “I’d say this is the first true sprinters day, it has a hilly start, including a Cat 2 near the mid way point but after that it quickly flattens out.  I’d expect the sprinters to keep this one under control.  The last 3km has a few turns to get right too.”

Stage 6, Friday 6 September: Carlisle to Gateshead (198km)

Another three Cat 1 climbs and 198km of racing, anyone?  The Tour travels further north now, as the race makes its way towards the last few stages. But this stage shouldn’t be seen in isolation as the eyes of the cycling world look to Flanders at the end of September, and the UCI Road World Championships.  Back in Gateshead though it should be quite the finish, underneath Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.

Chatting with Cherie, her excitement for this stage is clear; “An absolute must watch, this one.  It’s a very similar course to the Flanders UCI Road World Championships route, mimicking a lot of what the riders will see later in September.  The Tour of Britain is an important marker in riders’ progress towards the Worlds so the race GC contenders will need to be alert here.  I think it’ll come down to a reduced bunch sprint, after a few undulating climbs plus three Cat 1s.”

Stage 7, Saturday 11 September: Hawick to Edinburgh (195km)

On to the Borders now and early Autumn in the Tweed Valley, which sounds lovely for those of us watching, but will be another technical day and one for the peloton to stay on high alert. 

A lot of the route is quite exposed on high ground and just to prove it, there are a few wind farms in the area.  Depending on the conditions there could be a few chances for breaks to get away, as Cherie noted; “One for a breakaway perhaps? There are some punchy, tight climbs, and again, like Stage 6, it’s another where riders aiming for the UCI Road World Championships will test themselves and use it as prep.  There are some technical aspects to watch out for too, some cattle grids for example, but again, definitely one to watch.”

Stage 8, Sunday 12 September: Stonehaven to Aberdeen (195km)

The final stage and one the sprinters will definitely have their eye on.  But before the riders reach Aberdeen there are a few technical spots to watch out for, including cattle grids, narrow bridges and more – but by now, the riders will be used to these.  The final 2km are right on the sea-front so the bunch may be affected by whatever the North Sea can throw at them, but overall it should be a super fast last day.

Cherie said “it’s a very Scottish stage – some of the route comes close to the North Sea so the wind could be a factor – but by the time we get to the last 20km this one really has bunch sprint written all over it.  It’ll be a fast, fast run in to Aberdeen.  There are a couple of tight corners and pinch points in the final 3km too, so expect a really superb finale.”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Team leader Vanmarcke is out but ISN fights on in his spirit

Luck has not been on the side of Israel Start-Up Nation in this year’s Vuelta a España. Three riders crashed out in the first week and on stage 16, team leader Sep Vanmarcke also had to abandon after suffering his fourth crash in the race.

As team leader and road captain, Vanmarcke has been somewhat of a mentor for the remaining riders during the last weeks of racing. The experienced Belgian is always quick to give his teammates a confidence boost when needed and keep the team morale high at all time. Even when he’s the one suffering from crashes.

Vanmarcke’s presence and optimism will be missed on the bus during the final stages of the Vuelta but the riders are determined not to lose morale and continue to fight, honoring the spirit of their team leader.

“It’s really a disappointment to lose Sep. He’s been so unlucky in this race. He was our leader, our road captain and the one we all follow. He has really been the fighting spirit of the team. All we can do now is to try to do our best with the riders we have left here – and also ride for Sep. He really deserved better luck and we all hope to see him back racing soon,” said Israeli climber Guy Niv.

Sep Vanmarcke and the remaining ISN riders at dinner after the chaotic stage 16 of Vuelta a España.

Naturally, Vanmarcke is far from thrilled to leave the Vuelta like this, but he has no doubts that his teammates will continue to give it their all in the last week of racing.

“There are only four stages and a time trial left. The climbers will have good chances to shine. I know that everybody will fight as much and as hard as possible. We have not been lucky in this Vuelta, but the guys still have a few days to turn it around. We only have half of the team left but they are the strong guys!” Vanmarcke explains.

Looking ahead, Vanmarcke hopes the injuries he has sustained won’t keep him from targeting success in the upcoming classics. “Paris-Roubaix is coming soon, and I’ve got my eyes on that one. I really hope I can recovery fast enough,” he said.

The first opportunity for the ISN riders to get in the mix and show off the team colors comes today as the Vuelta once again has mountains on the menu. In fact, the following four days all offer good chances for the guys to get a result. It won’t be easy, but the riders will give it their best shot every single day!

Sep Vanmarcke taped up with SpiderTech to get through the first two weeks of racing despite several crashes.

— Mikkel to israelcyclingacademy.com


ISN Announcement :

Israel Start-Up Nation to begin the transformation to a fleet of “green” cars for racing
The team will test two new models of electric vehicles in upcoming races, starting with the Tour of Germany, with the aim of transitioning to a full fleet of hybrid and electric cars as soon as possible
Team manager: “We want to take a stand and do our part to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a moral obligation, to lead by example”
Sylvan Adams: “ISN is showing leadership”
Mike Woods: “I am excited. It’s a significant move”


August 27th  2021 TEL AVIV –


“We believe it’s the right thing to do,” stated ISN Team Manager Kjell Carlstrom. “We want to take a stand here. Transitioning to greener vehicles will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, which will result in health benefits for the riders and even the spectators. With the planet’s ongoing climate crisis, it is our moral obligation to do what we can as a team, and if we can lead the way for others to follow, it will be brilliant.”


Professional cycling teams use large fleets of cars, trucks, and buses to support their riders in hundreds of races worldwide, and the ISN team is no exception. The team operates over 20 vehicles, each of which can travel up to 50,000 km in a single season, totaling around 1 million kilometers a year.


“A gasoline-powered car emits 2 grams of nitric oxide per kilometer, so when you go a million kilometers, it creates a significant amount of pollution,” explained Dr. Arye Vanger, an Atmospheric Chemist and Head of Energy & Air at the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, Israel’s leading watchdog organization for environmental issues.


“ISN’s commitment to green transformation is especially important as a message to sports teams around the world and especially in pro cycling. The transition to green vehicles is the responsible way of protecting the health of the cyclists, the millions of spectators who line the roads, and the whole planet. Assuming we see a large-scale move in this direction, this may significantly reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of achieving almost completely clean transportation in the future.”

One of the most complicated challenges that has thus far hampered the transformation was the limited range of electric cars and the need to recharge, which created logistical pressure on the already complex operation surrounding a race.


“The ultimate goal is to become as green as the current technology will allow, taking into account the logistical constraints that come with running a cycling team,” explained Team Manager Carlstrom. “That’s why we will now put a few models of full-electric cars in different races starting on stage two of the Tour of Germany with one of the full electric models. We want to gain experience and collect data that will help us begin the transformation next season.”


In the Tour of Germany, the team will test the LEXUS UX 300e with a maximum range of 400 km. (https://www.lexus.eu/car-models/ux-300e/) – Supplied by Emil Frey.


And in other select upcoming races the team will test a Skoda ENYAQ iv 80, Skoda’s first full-electric SUV offering a range of up to 529 km.( https://www.skoda.co.uk/new-cars/enyaq-iv/80)


These cars will be an integral part of the team’s fleet of vehicles and will perform several tasks during various race, including reaching feed zones along the course to support the riders, and transporting the staff and sometimes the riders to the race or from the finish line.


The transition to using green vehicles in the ISN fleet is one significant piece of a larger team initiative called “Racing for Change,” which provides an opportunity for the team and its riders to take on projects to affect and better people’s lives. The first initiative under this banner was launched in Rwanda earlier this year when the team adopted and began supporting the only women’s cycling team in the country.


Using the platform of sport to make positive change and highlight the ‘normal’ but exemplary Israel, is an ethos deeply rooted in the foundation of the team. Team co-owner Sylvan Adams noted, “We are committed to using our sport and its immense popularity to promote positive social change. This electric car initiative is intended to point the way towards a greener, more viable sport, and to encourage the same in our general society. Israel is a technological leader, so it is entirely appropriate that ISN is showing leadership in this and many other important social projects. ‘Racing for change’ is a philosophy, not just a slogan.”

The decision to go green was also welcomed by its riders, especially Canadian star Mike Woods, who launched a personally driven project earlier this year to reduce and offset the carbon dioxide emissions incurred by his life as a pro rider.


Woods: “When I first heard that the team would be moving towards having a fleet of hybrids and electric vehicles, I was very excited. This is a significant move in the WorldTour and thinking like this is going to help the sport of pro cycling become more environmentally friendly. I am very proud that my team is taking responsibility for its environmental impact and leading by example.”


Alex Dowsett who is racing in the Tour of Deutschland said that he is very pleased with the team’s decision: “The technology is moving very fast. I am a big car enthusiast and I follow the improvements quite closely. It’s definitely the right direction and we need to do this for our planet’s climate”.


Last word to Adams, who attended an event August 11th at the ISN title-sponsor Start-Up Nation Central headquarters in Tel Aviv announcing the creation of the annual $1 million Israel Climate Change prize. “Israel leads the world in areas such as agriculture, water management, desalination, autonomous mobility, telecommunications, and high-tech. Israelis are winners in every area we decide to prioritize. I have no doubt that Israel can be a world leader in tackling climate change. With forward thinking partners like SNC, we will find technological solutions to this critical problem. ISN is proud to carry the banner all over the world in support of Israeli innovation and solutions to complex issues.”

— Tsadok to israelcyclingacademy.com

Second stage Vuelta not as ISN expected, and medical update on Cataford

Designated sprinter Itamar Einhorn was disappointed after stage 2 in #LaVuelta21. The Grand Tour debutant was the team leader, but could not get in the mix for the mass sprint.

“I was too far back, and then when my teammates, especially Davide, brought me to the front of the bunch, I ran out of energy.”

He was not surprised by the high level of racing in the Grand Tour, but he hoped – even though his last WorldTour-race took place last year – that he could compete with the top sprinters till the finish. Luckily for him, there are more chances to come.

“I am disappointed, of course, but I do know where I should improve in order to be more successful in the next mass sprint.”

“I was happy with the chance, and I am looking forward to the next stages.”

Alexander Cataford was involved in a crash with four kilometers to go. The Canadian suffered through his pain and finished the race.

He was taken to hospital after the stage where the medical staff diagnosed him with a broken collarbone. The Canadian will not start stage 3 in La Vuelta a España.

Sports director Oscar Guerrero is sad to see Cataford go, especially so early in the Vuelta. “This is a pity for him and the team.”

“He is young, comes to develop, and to fight for breakaways. Last year he crashed in the Giro d’Italia, and now he starts this Vuelta like that…”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com





Olé! Spain is calling the Israel Start-Up Nation team, and we are off to Burgos for the Vuelta a España once again!

ISN is sending a mixed group to the final Grand Tour of the year. “We have a fairly inexperienced team taking part in this year’s Vuelta, blended with a few experienced riders like Sep Vanmarcke and Mads Würtz Schmidt,” said team manager Kjell Carlström.

“We’ll be pushing for stage success and to build further experience towards the future. It will be great to see youngsters like Itamar Einhorn and Seb Berwick try their limits.”

Sep Vanmarcke will head up the team, which consists of Sebastian Berwick, Alexander Cataford, Davide Cimolai, Itamar Einhorn, Guy Niv, James Piccoli and Mads Würtz Schmidt.

Six of these riders were in the Vuelta a Burgos, so they are conveniently placed – no travel difficulties for Vanmarcke, Cataford, Einhorn, Niv, Piccoli and Würtz Schmidt.

‘Israel is behind you’

It will be the Grand Tour debut for two of our young riders, including Israeli Itamar Einhorn. The sprinter knows that the latter part of the course will be very difficult, but says, “Riding a Grand Tour is a challenge and I think I can do it. I feel good, I feel ready, and I feel really motivated.”

Einhorn will join Guy Niv in the squad, only the second time that two Israelis have been together in a Grand Tour line-up. Actually, it will be Niv’s second Grand Tour this year, having already participated in the Giro d’Italia.

“Two Israelis will take the start at this year’s Vuelta, validating our efforts in developing Israeli cyclists,” said team owner Sylvan Adams. “Each will have a different role on ISN’s eight man squad, with Guy being largely a breakaway stage hunter, while Itamar will be the team’s principal sprinter.”

“Guy is ISN’s most experienced GT rider, with the Vuelta representing his second Grand Tour this year following his participation in the Giro, while this is the first Grand Tour of Itamar’s career. I for one am excited to see what they can do over the three week race. Y’alla, all of Israel is behind you!”

ISN targets stages

Our sports directors Oscar Guerrero and Zak Dempster took a critical look at this year’s challenging course. “It’s a diverse Vuelta this year with quite a few sprint opportunities and of course the usual collection of tough mountain days. Along with this there are a number of medium mountain stages that will be really suited to strong breaks.

“For us the most important thing is that we are specific on the days that suit our guys. We’re not going in with a GC guy so that opens up so many opportunities for every rider on the team to have their day to really target a stage (or two or three).”

Our sprinters are also up to the challenge. Davide Cimolai and Itamar Einhorn will be dividing up the sprint duties, depending on how they feel each day. Cimolai showed us his good form in the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, with three second places in bunch sprints, while Einhorn has a win since coming back from a knee injury.

The course:

Happily, the race returns to 21 stages this year. And the entire race will be within the boundaries of Spain, to avoid any possible quarantines or limitations due to COVID. Last year, it was only 18 stages and held in October.

In an interesting twist, though, it starts and ends with individual time trials – no ceremonial procession into Madrid on the final stage. In fact, the race totally avoids the national capital city this year.

What’s there to look forward to? Eight flat stages, four hilly stages, seven mountain stages (six of them with mountaintop finishes), and the two time trials. Those climbs include the Lagos de Covadonga and the Alto d’el Gamoniteiru, and we are seeing some rather eye-popping gradients.

You can read our complete stage preview here


Sebastian Berwick

Sebastian Berwick, 21, Australia: This is Seb’s first Grand Tour and his first year at WorldTour level – quite an honour! He is also the youngest on this year’s line-up.  Our young climber was part of our winning team time trial in Coppi e Bartali, and most recently appeared in San Sebastian.

Seb says: “It feels great to be lining up for my first Grand Tour and as a neo pro it’s pretty cool too, I just really want to have some good performances. My first goal will be to finish the race, haha, but I definitely want to be active in some of the breakaways in some mountain stages and really have some good digs at stages hopefully. We haven’t pin-pointed any stages yet, but I’m sure there will be some in the second and third week that really suit me.”

Oscar and Zak say: “In his first neo-pro year that has had some ups and downs (like all do), this is an important learning step for him. He’s a guy we will hopefully see present in the breaks on the big mountain stages especially in the second week.”

Alexander Cataford

Alexander Cataford, 27, Canada: This is Alex’s second Grand Tour, having started the Giro d’Italia in 2020. The time trial specialist will have his eyes on the race’s two individual time trials. He too was in San Sebastian and did his final warm-up on Burgos.

Alex says: “I am very excited to be making my debut at the Vuelta this year. Spain has become my European home, so I am very excited to be racing here. Typically, my role in the team is to support our GC riders, but we will be going to the Vuelta with a more dynamic team focusing on stage results. So, it will be a bit of a shift for me. I am really looking forward to being in the race for results and taking my chances in some breakaways. I’ll be looking for opportunities in the medium hills and the more mountainous terrain in the second half of the race.”

Oscar and Zak say: “After focusing mostly on plying his trade as a domestique for the first part of the season, now Alex will get chances to chase breaks on the hard stages and chase the results, too.”

Davide Cimolai

Davide Cimolai, 31, Italy: Our fiery Italian sprinter is one of the team’s veterans, with nine Grand Tours behind him, including this year’s Giro d’Italia. The Giro was very successful for him, as seven top ten stage finishes, including three second places, put him in the overall second for the points jersey.

Davide says: “This will be first time I will ride two Grand Tours in one year, so it will be new experience for me. I feel good, even though I have had problems training lately, because of the bad weather. Plus, this race is important for me, as I have the European and World Championships coming up, too.”

Oscar and Zak say: “One of the most consistent and solid performers for the team in the last three years. Cimo will be there to fight for results and also help Itamar learn what it is to be a sprinter at the top level.”

Itamar Einhorn

Itamar Einhorn, 23, Israel: Sprinter Itamar is making his Grand Tour debut in Burgos. He holds the honor of being the first Israeli to be on the podium in a UCI-sanctioned race, when he finished third on a stage of the 2020 Tour of Colombia. His 2021 season got off to a late start due to a knee injury, but he topped off his comeback with a win for the Israel Cycling Academy team at the Visegard 4 Bicycle Race – GP Polski in July.

Itamar says: “I’m really excited going to my first Grand Tour, and especially the Vuelta, because it looks like this year it has pretty good options for the sprint. I will go for some of the sprints and on others I will help Davide Cimolai. We will see how it goes each day. The first week is good for me, the second week is getting harder, but it will help to train my climbing abilities. The third week is actually super hard, so I hope to make it to the end. I had a knee injury early this year, but now I am ready to go again. Riding a Grand Tour is a challenge and I think I can do it. I feel good, I feel ready, and I feel really motivated.”

Oscar and Zak say: “After a complicated season, the Vuelta comes at the right time, and at the right time of his career. There are plenty of sprints for him to learn his craft and fight for results and of course it’s an important step in his career which should help him to progress.”

Guy Niv

Guy Niv, 27, Israel: Guy is facing his second Grand Tour of the year, having ridden the Giro d’Italia this spring. It is, in fact, his third GT, as he also rode the Tour de France last year. The veteran rider has been in numerous stage races this year, most recently the Settimana Ciclistica Italiana and the Vuelta a Burgos.

Guy: “For me, this Vuelta is a huge mental challenge because of the circumstances surrounding my selection. The team offered me the chance to do two Grand Tours this year, and I decided to take on this challenge with a full heart and look at it as an honor and an opportunity. I will do everything to turn this into a great three weeks, to look for opportunities to fight for a win from a breakaway, and also to help my friend and teammate Itamar Einhorn in his first Grand Tour. For me, it will be my fifth, and – as I said – the second this season after the Giro.”

Oscar and Zak say: “Guy definitely took a big, step in the Giro to being more competitive at the top level. In the Vuelta he now has the chance to make an even bigger step forward with complete freedom to enter breaks and fight for real results. It’s a big opportunity for him at this stage of his career.”

James Piccoli

James Piccoli, 29, Canada: James is returning to the Vuelta, having also ridden it in 2020. He has had an excellent first part of the season, with the highlight being second on GC in the Tour of Rwanda, where he finished in the top five in five of the eight stages. He has not raced since the Tour de Suisse in June, but is ready to give it his all in Spain.

James says: “I’m really excited to return to the Vuelta, and I’ve prepared really well for it. I’m ready for the heat and the climbs and I can’t wait to be an aggressor in the race. I’m putting the finishing touches on my form here in Burgos and it should be all systems go for the Vuelta!”

Oscar and Zak say: “After bouncing back from last season well with some solid results, he’s gotten another shot at the Vuelta. James is one for the high mountains and there’s plenty of those for him to prove himself.”

Mads Würtz Schmidt

Mads Würtz Schmidt, 27, Denmark: This has been a great year so far for Mads, starting with his winning stage in Tirreno-Adriatico and continuing with his winning the Danish national road title. Riding the Vuelta will complete his Grand Tour experience, as he also ridden the Giro and Tour once each.

Mads says: “I’m looking forward to the Vuelta. It will be a good experience to do my first Vuelta. I have ambitions to win a stage. My shape is really good, so I believe it’s possible if I get myself in a position to win. I’m racing in Burgos now and have been very strong, so the training over the summer has been very good. It only makes it cooler to do the Vuelta in my Danish champion kit. I love every kilometer I race and ride in the jersey.”

Oscar and Zak say: “One of our best breakaway riders.  When he’s there, he usually converts it into a result. He showed in Burgos he’s definitely ready, so with an intelligent strategy he should be a contender on a number of stages.”

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke, 33, Belgium: Sep will have his hands full guiding the team and looking for his own chances as well. He too has had a good season so far, with top five finishes this spring in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Le Samyn and Tour of Flanders. Most recently he finished second overall in the difficult Settimana Ciclistica Italiana, with podium finishes in three of the five stages.

Sep says: “Ten years ago I rode my first Vuelta, and my first Grand Tour. It was a big thing and was pretty hard back then because I was 22 or 23. It is ten years later now and I am happy to go back. I’m looking forward to it. I did Settimana Italiana a few weeks ago and then Vuelta a Burgos.  I feel ok and look forward to next week.

“Of course, I’m not going for GC — I’m a little bit too big for that but I can always try (laughs). No, but I look to find some moments where I can go for a stage. It’s always a dream of every rider to win a stage in a Grand Tour. Next to that I will work for the team, of course, and I hope to get in good work for hopefully the Worlds and then Roubaix.”

Oscar and Zak say: “As we saw in Burgos, Sep is definitely ready for the Vuelta and the end of the season. We can expect him to lead the team and be present in those tough breaks fighting for results. He’s also a great reference for the sprinters in the lead-out.”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com