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Israel Start-Up Nation appoints first female sports director on WorldTour

British former pro rider Cherie Pridham set to join squad for 2021 having owned and managed British conti team Vitus Pro Cycling.

Cherie Pridham is set to become the first female sport director in the WorldTour.

Pridham will join Israel Start-Up Nation in 2021 along with Dror Pekatch, the team’s first Israeli sport director.

Pridham may be the first female to take a seat in the director’s chair at WorldTour level, but the Brit has a long history of running and managing teams.

The 49-year-old joined Team Raleigh as director in 2011 to become the first female in the role in the UK and went on to own the squad, which later became Vitus Pro Cycling. The team closed down due to financial uncertainties around COVID-19. Pridham is also a British Cycling committee member.

“I feel truly proud and privileged to be the first woman to serve as a sports director at the WorldTour level, joining one of the best teams in the world and being entrusted with great and legendary riders,” Pridham said Friday. “So, for me, I want to get it right because when I do, I know that it will inspire others to take the same journey and that really does mean something to me.”

The 2021 season marks the start of Israel Start-Up Nation’s second chapter as it welcomes aboard Chris Froome, Michael Woods, Daryl Impey, and a host of other new signings as part of its bid to win the Tour de France. After team owner Sylvan Adams splashed a lot of cash through the offseason, the pressure is on the squad to deliver.

“She has what is needed to be successful: experience and skills,” said team manager Kjell Carlstrom. “I believe that Cherie will have a positive impact on our team and get the job done.”

“Cherie has the distinction of being the first female sports director on a men’s WorldTour squad,” Adams said. “She has earned this position through her experience and success in various roles on both women’s and men’s teams. Cherie is a true professional and will have an opportunity to work with the very best riders in the pro peloton. I welcome her to Israel Start-Up Nation. I’m very excited for the coming season.”

Pridham was keen to focus on her future role at the team rather than her groundbreaking appointment in a male-dominated sport.

“My role is directeur sportif, not female directeur sportif, and I know that I’ll be expected to concentrate on that aspect,” she said. “I’ll be tackling the very same issues as my colleagues – I’ll make the same mistakes and have the same successes, too.”

Pekatch returns to the team having acted as director of Israel Cycling Academy when the team founded in 2014.

“Dror is a skilled DS and deserves the chance to take this step up to the highest level,” said team co-owner Ron Baron. “For an Israeli team, it is crucial to have Israeli representation to further develop the sport of cycling in the country at all levels. This is our obligation.”