Israel Start-Up Nation aims for ‘historic results’ in Giro d’Italia

ISN X Giro d’Italia: ‘La Grande Anteprima’/The Big Preview

This preview consists out of:

    1. The general preview
    2. Analysis of the course
    3. The team line-up

Israel Start-Up Nation aims for ‘historic results’ in Giro d’Italia

  • Plenty of chances to sprint in Giro 2020
  • World-class lead-out train will allow Barbier and Cimolai to go for ‘historic results’
  • ISN to approach mountain stages aggressively
  • Guy Sagiv with great memories at start line after Giro’s Grande Partenza in Jerusalem

Israel Start-Up Nation is warming up for its third Giro d’Italia, which begins this Saturday, 3 October. The Israeli team made its first appearance in the Italian Grand Tour in 2018 with Guy Niv and Guy Sagiv at the historic Big Start in Jerusalem. The 2020 edition will be the second Grand Tour in a short period of time for the WorldTour team, after completing the Tour de France a little more than one week ago.

The Giro, ISN’s perfect partner

The Giro d’Italia will forever have a special place in the heart of Israel Start-Up Nation after the race started in Jerusalem in 2018. Back then, ISN’s co-owner Sylvan Adams proved to race organizers and the world that Israel has a strong cycling culture, safe roads and beautiful scenery.

ISN’s pro manager Kjell Carlström has fantastic memories from the 2018-edition. “Starting in Israel, with two Israeli riders, and finishing second in one of the stages meant a lot to ICA [ISN’s name until 2020] back then. Being back in the Giro, as a WorldTour team, is exciting. We hope to achieve a historic result.”

Guy Sagiv also remembers the incomparable atmosphere of the Giro starting in his home country. “That was simply incredible. I have so many great memories from that race.”

Sagiv up for second participation

In 2019, Israel Cycling Academy (now ISN) returned to the 21-day stage race as a UCI Pro Continental team. Despite not completing the 2018 edition, Guy Niv successfully crossed the finish line in 2019. Niv, however, is not on ISN’s start list this year as he just finished the Tour de France – and made history as the first Israeli to ride in the biggest cycling race in the world.

Guy Sagiv

Guy Sagiv will make his reappearance in the Giro, although in Sicily and not Budapest, due to the COVID-19 crisis. He is looking forward to competing in the Giro for the second time in his career. “It will be very different than 2018,” the Israeli road race champion says. “This time I am here to not only to survive, but to race.”

His preparation for the Giro has not been ideal. “A small knee injury cost me around three weeks of valuable training, but that’s all behind me now. I raced Tirreno-Adriatico without issues and that was a great preparation towards this Grand Tour.”

Sagiv wants to help the team leaders as much as he can and join some breakaways throughout the race. “I am ready to represent my country in what is a special race for the team, for Israel and for myself. I believe we have a great lead-out train for our sprinters and a historic result is up for grabs.”

Cimolai and Barbier aim for ‘historic results’

ISN’s local hero is Davide Cimolai. The Italian sprinter is, together with ‘Rocket’ Rudy Barbier, ISN’s hope for the flat stages. Cimolai: “As an Italian, especially this year with the COVID-19 problems, I am proud to be here. A special thanks goes to the organizers, who had to put immense efforts to make sure we can compete.”

Tour de Slovaquie 2020 – 64th Edition – 3rd stage Banska Bystrica – Ziar nad Hronom 181.3 km – 18/09/2020 – Rudy Barbier (FRA – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Igor Stancik/BettiniPhoto©2020

He is 100% prepared for the Giro, after spending twelve days of the last month at altitude. “The peloton passes through my region for four days. That’s super exciting for me.”

The Giro d’Italia is Barbier’s main goal of the season. “I’ve done a huge amount of preparation for my first Grand Tour ever. I have been racing a lot, won a stage in Slovakia and had quality trainings over the last few days. With the team we have here, I cannot wait to start this race.”

‘Winning a stage is the goal’

Vuelta a Burgos 2020 – 42th Edition – 4th stage Gumiel de Izan – Roa de Duero 163 km – 31/07/2020 – Davide Cimolai (ITA – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2020

Team leader in this year’s edition of the Giro is Dani Navarro; and with Alex Dowsett and Matthias Brändle, Israel Start-Up Nation aims for good results in the three individual time trials (stage 1, 14 and 21).

Alexander Cataford and Rick Zabel make it eight.

Sports Director Nicki Sörensen is sure this line-up will be able to go for a stage win. “That’s the main goal,” he said, “and Barbier and Cimolai are our best riders to achieve it. Navarro will be our leader in the mountains. Next to the flat stages, there are a few days which are particularly interesting for us to get into the breakaway of the day. I expect aggressive racing on the climbs this Giro.”

The stages:


There are three individual time trials in this year’s Giro d’Italia (stages 1, 14 and 21). The three of them suit our TT-specialists Alex Dowsett and Matthias Brändle. They are both well prepared for this race and both were selected by their national teams to compete in the World Championships.

Rudy Barbier might very well aim for a good result in the opening time trial on Saturday as well, as the course suits the French rocket nicely. The parcours is super-fast and will be enjoyed particularly by those who love to use the big gears.

Flat stages:

The Giro features plenty of stages that will suit the sprinters. ISN’s sprint train is world class, and includes riders like Sagiv, Brändle, Dowsett, and Zabel who can work for Barbier and Cimolai.

The end of stage 2 might be a bit too challenging for the fast guys to survive (the last 4 km are at 5.1%), but stages 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 will most likely be decided by a mass sprint.

Stages 10, 12 and 13 are also sprinting opportunities, but it will take significant effort for the fast guys to overcome the hills. The last chance to sprint, after a few very challenging stages in the Alps, is stage 19.

The mountain stages:

The first fight for the GC will likely happen in stage 3, when the climbers battle on the slopes of the famous volcano Etna (18.8 km at 6.6%). Dani Navarro and Alexander Cataford are ISN’s picks for mountain stages like this. After stage 3, the tough and long stage 5 (which might be one for the attackers) looks like it will be interesting for the GC-contenders.

Likewise, is stage 9, before the climbers get into the action again in the challenging last week of the Giro. Stage 15 features a long and steep final climb, while stage 16 brings the peloton over short and steep hills. Stage 17 is a monster of a stage, with 203 km and four categorized climbs (3 Cat 1s and 1 Cat 3). Race day 18 looks like the day before as it includes the legendary Stevio Pass and if the GC is not already decided, then stage 20 to Sestiere will absolutely create time gaps.


Directors: Nicki Sörensen, Claudio Cozzi, Rene Andrle.

Giro d’Italia: 03/10 to 25/10.

Photos: Bettini Photos and Noa Arnon.

Preview by: Sjors Beukeboom

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