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Sutherland, Martin bring WorldTour ballast to ICA remake

Experienced team captain Sutherland and GC contender Martin add heft to new WorldTour team

Israel Cycling Academy is making the jump to the WorldTour in 2020.

So the team needed some WorldTour-caliber riders to help ease the transition. After securing top-10 Tour de France rider Dan Martin last month, the Israeli-backed team signed one of the most reliable captains in the bunch with Rory Sutherland. Like Martin, the experienced Australian moves over from UAE-Team Emirates.

“We were looking for a rider that can be a road captain in certain races and in others – especially the biggest ones – assist our GC guys in the most critical moments: be on the mountains but also on the flat with positioning and keeping them out of trouble,” said team manager Kjell Carlstrom. “Beyond that, we needed someone with vast experience and leadership skills that can help and give advice to young guys in the team.”

At 37, Sutherland fit the bill to a T.

After riding with UAE-Emirates, Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo, the Australian brings his experience and professionalism to a team looking to make the next big step in what’s already been an accelerated progression.

Sutherland, who also raced for many years on the North American circuit, was even mulling retirement, but liked what he saw when he began talks with the team.

“When Kjell spoke with me about the ICA project, it really kept the fire burning and I knew it was the team for me,” Sutherland said. “I love riding my bike. I honestly get huge satisfaction in assisting with the development of riders and helping to create a positive team environment where everyone works well together.”

Sutherland and Martin bring some heft to the ICA roster going into 2020.

The squad is undergoing a major makeover with its merger with Katusha-Alpecin, which folds at the end of 2019. Several of Katusha’s riders will slide over to ICA for next season as the Israeli team takes over the Russian-back squad’s WorldTour license.

The merger still needs the final OK from the UCI, but the deal looks likely to get the green light. The WorldTour license will all but secure the ambitions of team owner Sylvan Adams of bringing an Israeli team to the Tour de France. Adams, a billionaire developer from Canada who recently became an Israeli citizen, underwrote the “big start” of the 2018 Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem, and helped bolster ICA’s team budget.

Along with Sutherland and Martin, several other riders are also set to join for 2020. Among them are James Piccoli, the Canadian sensation who lit up the North American circuit this year.