Posted by Editoress on 08/12/20
WorldTour team Israel Start-Up Nation has announced that Canada's Mike Woods will join the team next season, leaving EF Education First after five seasons. The ISN team is co-owned by Canadian-Israeli billionaire cycling enthusiast Sylvan Adams, and Woods' long-time coach Paulo Saldanha is the performance manager with the team, and founder and CEO of the PowerWatts training system. ISN also has a strong Canadian contingent, with Guillaume Boivin, James Piccoli and Alex Cataford all riding for the squad, and Ben Perry with the 'feeder' team.
In a release, ISN says that Woods will "be Chris Froome's super-domestique. The Canadian will also lead the team in some of the biggest classics and monument races."
Woods is seen by the team as a major building block in the plan to bolster the team, which has taken shape since the signing of Chris Froome. Froome will be the cornerstone of the team starting in 2021 until the end of his career. ISN has also announced in recent days that it has signed names like Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Lotto-Soudal), and Patrick Bevin (CCC).
Woods said in the release, "Paulo and Sylvan are the reason that I am a pro cyclist today. I first met Paulo in 2013, and he immediately took me under his wing. He pushed me to quit my jobs (working as a bank teller and at a bike shop), and he told me I had the ability to be a pro. Because of my age (27 at the time), I was too old to qualify for government grants or get a place on a development team. It was difficult for me to justify leaving my job. However, Paulo connected me with Sylvan, and the two of them invested in me when nobody else would. Through their support and belief, I managed to rise through the cycling ranks and make it to the highest level of the sport."
Saldanha stated: "I have been working with Michael for over six years. I noticed his engine in a camp in Quebec, just as he was beginning to race bikes. As he progressed, he was supported (and still is) by B2Ten, an organization that helps elite athletes in Canada. Michael will be a strong weapon on our squad as he has a great capacity to win at the highest level, while also having an extremely positive impact on team culture."
Sylvan Adams said: "It gives me particular pleasure to welcome Mike Woods to ISN. 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 said that rejoining Adams and Saldanha was a major impetus for his move, "I have had five great years with Slipstream Sports (EF Education First), which made making the decision to leave their program difficult. 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."
"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. For me, the prospect of riding for the best GC rider of this generation at the TdF, 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."
ISN team manager Kjell Carlstrom made it clear he has great expectations of Woods: "Mike is going to be a pivotal piece in our structuring in the coming years. His career accomplishments so far are great, but we believe he will be able to achieve even more, both individually and for the team, as we move forward together."
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