Michael Woods signs with Israel Start-Up Nation for 2021

Canadian climber to act superdomestique for Froome and lead team's monument ambitions.

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Star climber Michael Woods will join Israel Start-Up Nation in 2021.

The team confirmed that Woods, 33, will transfer from EF Pro Cycling in the new year in what marks another marquee signing for the rapidly-expanding Israeli outfit.

Woods will act as right-hand-man to four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome in the grand tours, and lead the team alongside Irishman Dan Martin in the hilly classics.

“With Chris Froome and several other great signings, I believe that ISN has the potential not just to win the Tour next year, but also be present and winning throughout the entire WorldTour calendar,” Woods said Wednesday.

“For me, the prospect of riding for the best GC rider of this generation at the Tour de France is very exciting. Also, with Dan Martin already on board, I really see us being able to have a winning combination in the Ardennes and Italian classics.”

Woods is the latest in a tide of signings for the Israeli team. Hot on the heels of the blockbuster news that they had signed Chris Froome from Ineos for 2021, Israel Start-Up Nation has also penned contracts with veteran South African Daryl Impey and rising stage racers Carl Fredrik Hagen and Patrick Bevin. Meanwhile, the team has renewed contracts with a host of its existing roster.

With Woods packing grand tour stage victories and podium places in the world championships and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his arrival will provide the team yet another focal point alongside Froome and Martin.

Having stepped up to the WorldTour with the Slipstream franchise in 2016, long-term relationships with Israel Start-Up Nation’s wealthy team owner Sylvan Adams and performance director Paulo Saldanha were the key to Woods’ move.

“Paulo and Sylvan are the reason that I am a pro cyclist today,” Woods said.

Adams supported Woods through his transition from running to pro cycling, and Saldanha has played coach to the Canadian talent for six years.

“I have had five great years with Slipstream Sports, which made making the decision to leave their program difficult,” Woods said. “However, when it comes down to it, Paulo and Sylvan have believed in me from day one, and I am very excited to reciprocate that belief and be a part of ISN in 2021.”

“It gives me particular pleasure to welcome Mike Woods to ISN,” Adams said. “I’ve known him since before he turned pro, and I’ve watched his development as a rider, becoming one of the world’s elite. He will be an indispensable super-domestique to Chris Froome’s Tour de France bids beginning next year and will have an equally important role as our team leader in classics and monuments.

“Welcome to ISN Woodsy, I’m excited about our future!”

Woods continues his hunt for monument success Saturday, leading EF Pro Cycling in Italy at Il Lombardia.

Israel Start-Up Nation did not confirm the duration of Woods’ contract.

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