The team has confirmed that their newly arrived grand tour star will be kick-starting his season at the eight-stage Vuelta a San Juan, beginning January 24.
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“This race will mark the beginning of a much-anticipated new chapter of my career,” Froome said in a team statement Wednesday. “I look forward to racing with my new teammates and getting the ball rolling on the adventure that lies ahead.”
The team is not expecting Froome to be taking victory at the race, last year won by Remco Evenepoel. Instead, the 35-year-old will be continuing to rebuild form for his Tour de France goal as he continues to come back from his devastating injury in June 2019.
“He [Froome] is not going to Argentina to win the race,” said team sports director Rik Verbrugghe. “We see it as a perfect opportunity for Chris to start the building process towards the peak of the season down the road.”
Israel Start-Up Nation will be hoping for stage wins in a lineup that also includes 2020 stage winner Rudy Barbier, Guy Niv, Tom Van Asbroeck, Alex Cataford, and newly signed Kiwi Patrick Bevin.
The race is set to add one additional stage to make a total of eight for 2021, and the route is made up of one mountaintop finish, one individual time trial, and the remaining stages likely to end in sprint finishes
The 2.Pro series Argentinian race is set to benefit from the cancelation of the Australian block of racing for 2021.
With The Tour Down Under, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and Herald Sun Tour all postponed due to coronavirus complications, teams are expected to show renewed interest in the Vuelta a San Juan, Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana and Challenge Mallorca as season openers. Tour champion Tadej Pogačar is expected to make his season debut at the series of one-day races in Mallorca.
The Vuelta San Juan will mark the start of a much-anticipated new chapter for Israel Start-Up Nation. A spending spree through the back half of 2020 bought a slew of riders to the squad including Bevin, Michael Woods, Daryl Impey and Carl Fredrik Hagen as it goes all-in to send Froome to a fifth Tour de France title.
“In what is going to be an important season for the team and for Chris, the nice atmosphere and weather in the Vuelta a San Juan make it a great place to start out the season,” team manager Kjell Carlström said. “Chris will get a feel for his new teammates in a short camp before the start and will be able to build on the relationships throughout the race. Racing together as a team is always important and this race setting provides a great platform for working on that.”
Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Bora-Hansgrohe, and Cofidis are also expected to be racing in San Juan.