The Israeli squad is gearing up for its return to racing in its first year in the WorldTour, with stage racers gathering at a training camp in the thin air of Andorra and the classics unit heading to the cobbles of northern Belgium and France to recon key sectors of this fall’s classics.
This year will be the team’s first-ever trip to the Tour de France, where it hopes to fulfill its ambition of sending the first-ever Israeli rider to the historic race. One likely candidate for the accolade is Guy Niv, who had to be especially “released” from Israel, a country on high coronavirus alert, to travel to Europe. The 26-year-old managed to enter Andorra after the Spanish government granted him a visa having put himself under quarantine for several weeks beforehand.
Niv, along with his potential Tour teammates including Dan Martin, Dani Navarro, Alex Dowsett, James Piccoli, and Ben Hermans have all been a part of the two-week altitude camp, set to wrap up in the middle of next week.
Meanwhile, the classics squad, headed by veteran fastman André Greipel and Paris-Roubaix runner-up Nils Politt, have based themselves near Oudenaard as they take an early look at sections of Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix.
Andorra Photos: Noa Arnon
Cobbles photos: Kramon
14 of the squad’s climbers and grand tour riders have based themselves in the mountains of Andorra.
Riding in masks through urban areas is one of a range of safety measures in place.
Guy Niv has been with the team since it formed as Israel Cycling Academy in 2017. He could become the first Israeli to ride the Tour de France this summer.
Just because the team is based in the mountains it doesn’t mean that time on the TT bike can be neglected.
The high altitude and wealth of climbs draws many pros to living and training in Andorra, with a number of Israel Start-Up Nation riders basing themselves there.
Dan Martin will likely lead the Tour squad this summer. With Froome on board next summer, he may not have the opportunity again.
The riders at altitude benefited from the cooking of the team chef.
The classics team is scouting the major northern classics, with a trip to the Roubaix velodrome making for a good photo opportunity.
Nils Politt took second at Paris-Roubaix last year behind Philippe Gilbert, and will have big ambitions at this fall’s classics.
Riding the cobbles is an artform that needs to be learned.
38-year-old Greipel recently extended his contract through 2022, and will lead the classics unit alongside fellow German Nils Politt.
Scouting trips offer a vital opportunity to test bike setups and tire pressures.
The pavé may not look so dry and dusty come October 25, the date for Paris-Roubaix this year.