Guy Niv’s favorite cycling loops (!) in Israel – #VisitIsrael

With #VisitIsrael and Hammerhead, Israel Start-Up Nation shares the favorite loops of all Israeli riders in our two teams.

In volume 11 we feature Guy Niv. It is a special edition, as he could not choose between the three best loops he ever did!

What if you cannot choose your favorite route? Then you choose three!

Guy Niv, absolutely an ambassador for Israel, lives and trains in Dan, a kibbutz in the Upper Galilee region of Israel. Showing you the best routes in Israel is an easy task for him. Or a difficult one, if you look at it from a different perspective: he couldn’t choose a favorite!

Luckily for us, he selected routes for all levels:

“The first route I recommend riding is a medium one and it suits all kinds of riders. It brings you through the best landscapes in the area, starting with riding in the Hula Valley towards Kibbutz Gonen. That’s a warm-up for the Golan Heights. From there, you climb nearly twelve kilometers at an average gradient of 6%. The top of this climb, at Wasset Junction, there is a great place for a quick stop. I recommend having a look in the ‘spice shop’ there. After the stop, you can enjoy riding on the beautiful Golan, direction north, until the Druze village of Majdal Shams. From there, it is a downhill, back to the valley.”

Niv’s medium loop: https://www.strava.com/activities/3383983771

The second loop Niv recommends is one for the coffee. “It is a small loop in the Hula Valley,” he says. “There is a short hill that takes you into the orange grove roads. You will feel like you are riding in Tuscany for a moment. There is a small loop in the valley that I usually do before going back home. There are a few coffee stops along the way, but my favorite is definitely ‘Lehemke’.”

Niv’s coffee loop: https://www.strava.com/activities/3378706169

And a ride towards Mount Hermon is a must-do when visiting Israel, according to Niv. “Obviously you don’t have to do it three times like I did in my Strava activity – that was an extreme workout – but if you want to feel like you’re riding in the Alps, I highly recommend this loop. Mount Hermon is a long and beautiful climb all the way to the highest point in Israel. It has amazing views, all the way up. Don’t miss out on the typical local candy called ‘knafeh’ in the village of Majdal Shams!”

Niv’s Mount Hermon loop: https://www.strava.com/activities/3498036890

#Hammerhead #VisitIsrael #RideForMore

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Gordon Fraser new head sports director of Israel Cycling Academy

Tel Aviv. September 29. Canadian Gordon Fraser will become the new head sports director of the Israel Cycling Academy development team, replacing Australian Zak Dempster, who will move up to Israel Start-Up Nation as a full-time DS.

“We see these moves as a win-win for the whole organization,” said ISN’s team manager, Kjell Carlstrom. “Zak has proved to be a fantastic sports director and has set our whole devo project on a fast track forward. We expect Gord to continue the momentum and bring his vast experience both as a rider and as a sports director to further develop our young generation – especially the Israelis.”

Since the team was founded more than six years ago, the core mission and goal of the Israel Cycling Academy project has been to help Israeli cycling talent grow and become competitive at the top-tier of professional racing. Significant progress was made towards achieving this goal with Dempster and Israeli manager Aviad Izrael at the helm of the development team, and Fraser is expected to push it further on the same track. “The Israeli riders personify the globalization of cycling’s popularity. We want to continue to foster that trend and ultimately graduate as many Israeli riders to the WorldTour as possible,” he said.

“I’ve been out of high-performance cycling for two years and I look forward to returning to this level of competition,” said Fraser (53) who comes to ICA with a proven track record of twenty years, including more than 200 victories as a pro-rider and 10 years of DS and management experience for various teams in North America on his resume.

Dempster (34) expressed confidence in his successor, saying “Gord’s got a proven track record of developing talent over the years. We’ve had a lot of communication already and I like the way he operates: clear and to the point. I’m sure we’ve got a guy we can trust to direct the strategy effectively and further build the great platform of the Continental team.”

For the young Australian sports director, the move up to the WorldTour team completes a full circle: Dempster spent two years racing for the team before assuming a leadership role on the Conti team.

Dempster: “I’m really grateful I started my career as a DS with the Continental project as it allowed me to learn quickly about how a team really operates on all levels as well as to work up close with young, motivated guys, which is the best part of this job.

“Now that I’ve been able to gain experience doing a couple of Vueltas and a Tour [de France], I feel that I’m ready to progress into ISN as a director. I’m so excited to be a part of forming strategies and putting in place plans with our roster to try and become one of the top teams in the world. This is my dream job – I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

— Tsadok to israelcyclingacademy.com

Lahav Davidzon’s favorite cycling loop in Israel – #VisitIsrael

With #VisitIsrael and Hammerhead, Israel Start-Up Nation shares the favorite loops of all Israeli riders in our two teams.

In volume 6 we feature Lahav Davidzon. “This one is beautiful and incredibly diverse,” he says.


It was not hard for Lahav Davidzon to design his favorite loop in Israel. “Most of the route is super quiet,” the Israeli sprinter confirms. “Most roads are small, which make them amazing to ride. There is everything on this route, from long straight flats to twisty hilly sections. If you want you can also do a few longer climbs.”

“I love this route because I can step out of the door, click in, put my Hammerhead on and go ride. I will see vineyards, the mountains and the sea. And if I like, or feel I need to get some calories in, I stop at the ‘flower station’, a good coffee-stop with some amazing pastries.”

To download Davidzon’s favorite route/GPX-file, click here.

Davidzon’s favorite segment, click here.

#Hammerhead #VisitIsrael #RideForMore

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Israel Start-Up Nation brings two Israeli riders to Vuelta a España

Guy Niv and Itamar Einhorn have made it to the Vuelta-selection for the Israel Start-Up Nation team. It is the second time the Israeli team has brought two Israeli riders to a Grand Tour.


For Niv, La Vuelta means his second Grand Tour this season, after having finished the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. For Itamar Einhorn, the Vuelta a España means his first Grand Tour participation.

Israelis take on Vuelta full-heartedly

Co-owner Sylvan Adams says the selection of two Israeli riders for a 21-day-stage-race validates our efforts in developing Israeli cyclists. “Each will have a different role on ISN’s eight-man squad”, Adams says. “Guy, ISN’s most experienced Grand Tour-rider, is largely a breakaway stage hunter, while Itamar will be the team’s principal sprinter. I for one am excited to see what they can do over the three-week race. Y’alla, all of Israel is behind you!”

The 23-year-old Einhorn says he is ‘obviously’ very excited to race his first Grand Tour. The sprinter: “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. It looks like this year it has pretty good options for the sprint.”

Niv says he will take on the ‘double Grand Tour challenge’ with a full heart. “I 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.”

‘Big opportunities for Israeli riders’

 Oscar Guerrero and Zak Dempster, two of the three sports directors for ISN in the Vuelta, say that the Vuelta comes at the right time in Einhorn’s 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.”

About Niv the two sports directors say: “Guy, after having made big steps in the last two seasons, now has the chance to take 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.”

Chris Froome not in line-up

Chris Froome will not compete in La Vuelta. Froome, winner of the Spanish stage race in 2011 and 2017, has not fully recovered from the Tour de France. According to ISN’s team manager Kjell Carlström, it does not make sense to start with Froome.

“Froome is not completely ready for another Grand Tour. With an alternative race plan, Chris will have a few more weeks to get ready for the rest of the season. He will race some shorter stage races.”

Sep Vanmarcke and Davide Cimolai as experienced riders to Vuelta

In addition to Israelis Niv and Einhorn, Sep Vanmarcke and Davide Cimolai make their way to Burgos. Also, Danish national champion Mads Würtz Schmidt, Canadians Alex Cataford and James Piccoli, and Australian U-23 rider Sebastian Berwick start La Vuelta.

Guerrero: “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.



Vuelta a España (14/08 – 05/09):

  • Itamar Einhorn – Israel
  • Mads Würtz Schmidt – Denmark
  • Sep Vanmarcke – Belgium
  • Guy Niv – Israel
  • Davide Cimolai – Italy
  • Sebastian Berwick – Australia
  • Alexander Cataford – Canada
  • James Piccoli – Canada

Sports directors: Oscar Guerrero, Claudio Cozzi & Zak Dempster

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Israel Start-Up Nation and talented Kiwi Corbin Strong join forces

  • Strong: ‘Humbled to start my professional career with ISN’
  • Carlström: ‘He impressed us on the road and the track’

Israel Start-Up Nation signed Corbin Strong. The 21-year-old Kiwi, coming from SEG Racing Academy, will be on the Israeli team for three years.

“It is a dream come true joining Israel Start-Up Nation for the 2022 season. It will be a truly humbling experience to start my professional road career alongside some of the biggest names in the sport,” Strong said from Tokyo.

ISN’s general manager, Kjell Carlström, is also excited about bringing Strong to the team. “Over the last few years, he has impressed us with his skills on the track as well as on the road,” he says.

“We are committed to giving Corbin a great home for further development and welcome him into the ISN family.”

Olympic Games

The Kiwi is currently representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games, where he is competing on the track.

Competing in the Olympic Games is another highlight in Strong’s quickly developing cycling career. He started riding on the track when he was ten and, since then, has risen through the higher ranks of cycling step-by-step.

The 21-year-old: “After having tried multiple sports while growing up, I followed my dad and brother to the velodrome. When my brother broke his arm, I could borrow his bike. This started my love for the sport and, since then, I always dreamed of being a professional cyclist.”

The Kiwi continues: “Success in the sport came quite early for me with national titles on the road and track coming through the junior ranks. However, becoming a pro cyclist while coming from a small town in New Zealand seemed like a very ambitious goal. I think that is why it intrigued me so much.”

Continuing to develop

Strong had to recover from a broken back after a crash in his final season as a junior but gained momentum the year after when the national track cycling team and the Australian continental team St. George gave him opportunities to develop. Ultimately, he joined the SEG Racing Academy and got selected for the Olympic Games.

After the Olympics, Strong will finish the road season with his current team before joining ISN in 2022. “I look forward to learning from the best riders and continuing my development with ISN.”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Israel Start-Up Nation to continue racing on Factor Bikes in 2022

Ben Hermans lifting up his OSTRO VAM in celebration after soloing to victory in Giro dell’Appennino this year

Following two successful years of collaboration, Factor Bikes and Israel Start-Up Nation (“ISN”) are pleased to announce their continued partnership in 2022. The team will also continue to use Black Inc wheels and components alongside CeramicSpeed products to equip the team with a winning combination. 

Since the inception of the partnership, Factor has worked closely with ISN’s staff and riders on new product testing and development: recent new products such as the Factor OSTRO VAM and Black Inc TWENTY and FORTY FIVE wheels represent some of the innovations that have been born out of this collaboration.

Drawing on ISN’s experience and knowledge through rider feedback empowers Factor to drive innovation to new heights. Seeing the team competing and winning in some of the biggest races in the world on Factor bikes and Black Inc wheels and components is a testament to the work that goes into developing these racing products.

Rob Gitelis, CEO of Factor Bikes said: “We are pleased to be able to continue our work with ISN and build upon the success we have enjoyed to date. In the last two years, the team’s feedback has been a really important and valued part of our development process. Alongside Black Inc and CeramicSpeed, we have a strong partnership in place and we look forward to building on this with new product launches and future racing success.”

Sylvan Adams, co-owner of Israel Start-Up Nation said: “It gives me a lot of satisfaction to announce that ISN has renewed our partnership with Factor Bikes for next year. Factor produces one of, if not the best road bike in the business, and our riders love the OSTRO VAM in particular. Many of them have told me that it is the best bike they’ve ridden, and that it actually makes them faster. As well, Factor has been extremely responsive to our needs and rider feedback. Factor’s gifted super engineer Graham Shrive has produced a new TT bike which we first tried at the Giro. With Factor, ISN is JUST. GETTING. STARTED.”

ISN will race on the OSTRO VAM, O2 VAM and ONE V2 depending on racing requirements, and Black Inc’s full range of wheels including the TWENTY, THIRTY, FORTY FIVE and SIXTY.

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Sanad Abu Fares’ favorite cycling loop in Israel – #VisitIsrael

With #VisitIsrael and Hammerhead, Israel Start-Up Nation shares the favorite loops of all Israeli riders in our two teams. In volume 3 we feature Sanad Abu Fares. “I have need for speed.”


Sanad Abu Fares loves the downhills on the road bike. It is one of the reasons why this route is his favorite in Israel.

The downhill of the Beit Oren is fast and furious, Abu Fares knows. “Perfect to go with high speed through the curves and descent on full speed!”

Another reason is that he is the owner of several KOMs on this route. “I train here a lot,” Abu Fares says. “The roads are good, and there is a lot of variety in this route, so it basically suits any kind of training. The views are very beautiful, I would say one of the best views in Israel.”

The Israeli continental riders loves to stop for a coffee on this route. “There are a few options with good coffee,” he says. “[You] can stop once to rest and enjoy. Or twice. Or three times!”

Abu Fares’ favorite loop, click here
Abu Fares’ favorite segment, click here

#Hammerhead #VisitIsrael #RideForMore

— admin to israelcyclingacademy.com

Ben the Aggressor! | Israel Start-Up Nation

Ben Hermans Great Victory in Italy


A winner cannot play it safe. He’s got to take the bull by the horns when the moment presents itself, and then not look back.

That was BEN HERMANS all the way today in one of his most impressive victories, wearing ISN’s colors at the Italian one-day race of Giro dell’Appennino. 

His move came 3 kilometers to the top of the last climb of the day, the Madonna della Guardia. Until then, the team supported him greatly – taking part in controlling the peloton in the front alongside INEOS and setting a high pace in the last climb. 

Giro dell’Appennino 2021 – 82nd Edition – Pasturana – Genova 192 km – 24/06/2021 – Ben Hermans (BEL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

The move by Ben was decisive. Just two riders were able to stay close and Ben held only a 20-second gap on the top.

But 24 km were still awaiting …

After a very fast descent, Ben went into TT mode and he was so powerful and determined, nobody was able to close the small gap and he won with 30 seconds to spare.

“He told us on the radio that he felt great,” recalled DS Cherie Pridham (who brought home this win in her first race as leading sports director). 

And great he was. 

“I’m obviously really happy that today all went according to what we had planned. I have to thank all my teammates for their work. Especially the young guys, Sebastian and Alexis who did the longest pulls today to put me into a good situation in the final of the race.

“In the last climb I got paced well by Tom and Alex, [who] made the race hard so when the attacks followed by other teams, we were very soon only with three guys left.

“1.5 km before the top of the last climb, Moscon and Ayuso dropped also and I had to go 25 km solo, which wasn’t easy because of technical downhill and 15 km of full headwind on the flat roads to the coast.

Giro dell’Appennino 2021 – 82nd Edition – Pasturana – Genova 192 km – 24/06/2021 – Scenery – Ben Hermans (BEL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

“[I] expanded the gap from 20 seconds to 45 seconds and had all the time to put Factor in the picture at the finish line. For sure the Factor Ostro helped me on the flat roads to expand the gap and stay in front to take the win. Finally, I won a race on this amazing bike, after the TTT win in Coppi e Bartali.”

The ISN team today:
Ben Hermans
Sebastian Berwick
Alexis Renard 
Tom Van Asbroeck
Alex Cataford 
Hugo Hofstetter

— Tsadok to israelcyclingacademy.com


This is for all the ISN fans, and especially the legions of MIKE WOODS fans, who are still feeling the painful sting of watching the best rider of the day miss out on such a deserved victory in the last few meters. 

But tonight, writing this report, we are determined to not let this last bitter scene be what we remember most.

We would like to remember the most incredible scene of the day, just 20 minutes earlier, during the last few kilometers of the last of those still snow-covered majestic Swiss mountain passes. WOODSY suddenly going on the attack, escaping the GC group of fantastic climbers – going full gas but light as a feather. At that moment, it seemed as though nothing could hold him back, and, at the top – when he reached the summit all alone – it was picture-perfect.


That was Woods at his best, the rider who, since joining us at the beginning of the season, has become our brightest star. Full of confidence in himself, in his leadership, and his buddies. Today was such a great example of that as the whole team followed the plan to perfection. His fellow Canadians, Guillaume Boivin and James Piccoli made sure that the breakaway would stay under control and left it to Woods to do the rest in the last few kilometers of the climb. 

Unfortunately, there were 15 kilometers left, mostly downhill, and although Woodsy was descending well, Swiss rider Gino Mäder (Team Bahrain Victorious) was able to catch up. The two went head-to-head in a duel to the finish. 

Tour de Suisse 2021 – 85th Edition – 8th stage Andermatt – Andermatt 159,5 km – 13/06/2021 – Passo del Gottardo – Michael Woods (NZL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – Mattia Cattaneo (ITA – Deceuninck – Quick-Step) – photo Annegret Turk/BettiniPhoto©2021

That was where the “perfection” of this scene ended.

Explained Woods, “The plan was to open the sprint with 400 meters to go, and I followed the plan and went. But, in retrospect, of course, I opened the sprint too early.

“Although it was a good day overall, I’m disappointed with second place.

“I wanted to win, especially off the back of all the great teamwork, to reward everybody, but otherwise, it was a good week. I think I’m in a really good spot right now.”

ISN’s sports director Dirk Demol agreed: 

“What an excellent rider he is, always willing to take the initiative and attack. He did it the whole race, with the team backing him up. Look at his results: second and third in stages, fifth overall, and the king of the mountain jersey! I am proud of Mike, and I am proud of the boys.”

Tour de Suisse 2021 – 85th Edition – 8th stage Andermatt – Andermatt 159,5 km – 13/06/2021 – Michael Woods (NZL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Peter De Voecht/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

— Tsadok to israelcyclingacademy.com

Race schedule update | Israel Start-Up Nation

Due to three positive Covid-19 cases amongst its staff members, Israel Start-Up Nation won’t be lining up for a small number of races in June.

The three staff members of the team returned a positive Covid-19 test result after regular internal testing by the team doctors. In order to contain the situation and to not risk the health of other staff members, riders and rival teams, Israel Start-Up Nation, has decided to skip the following races in June:

Grosser Preis des Kantons Aargau (June 4)
Dwars door het Hageland (June 5)
Elfstedenronde (June 6)
Baloise Belgium Tour (June 9-13)
Adriatica Ionica Race (June 14-18)

The team will keep its race bubble intact for the Tour de Suisse (June 6-13) as none of the selected staff members nor riders has been in contact with any of the affected personnel. For the same reason, the team will also continue racing in the Critérium du Dauphiné.

General Manager, Kjell Carlström: “Obviously, we would have liked to line up in these great races, for which the riders have trained hard to do well. However, the health of our staff and riders, as well as safeguarding all other teams, will always come first. We don’t want to take any risk that may jeopardize anyone. In a situation like this, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com