Israel Cycling Academy have confirmed their Katusha-Alpecin takeover, which will bump them up to the WorldTour.
The Professional Continental outfit has stepped in to save WorldTour team Katusha, which faced an uncertain future as headline sponsor Alpecin and bike provider Canyon are believed to be moving their money elsewhere.
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Israel Cycling Academy (ICA) have been pursuing promotion to cycling’s Premier League as a way of securing their spot at the Tour de France, with the team now taking over Katusha-Alpecin’s licence.
ICA co-owner, the Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams, said: “I have stated for some time that ICA would be in the WorldTour sooner or later. I am excited that it is happening right away for next year’s season.
“We have several new riders, including some from the current Katusha team that will join, and I promise we will make some noise in lots of big races next year. We’re just getting started.”
News that Katusha-Alpecin may fold emerged during the 2019 Tour de France, as French newspaper L’Equipe revealed that Alpecin and Canyon were expected to pull out and riders were told they were free to look for other contracts.
German sponsors Alpecin, a shampoo brand, and Canyon are expected to move their investment to support rising superstar Mathieu Van der Poel, who rides for Corendon-Circus.
Israel Cycling Academy will now take control of the team, subject to approval by the UCI, and will begin racing at WorldTour level from January 2020 under Katusha’s existing WorldTour licence, which runs for three years.
The team will race in ICA’s blue and white kit, provided by clothing brand Katusha.
ICA co-owner and founder, Israeli businessman Ron Baron, said: “I’m sure that this step will enhance our core vision to develop Israeli cycling on the world stage. To see an Israeli rider in the Tour de France next season will be, for me, very satisfying.”
The remaining question for the new merged team is roster, as there will not be space for all the current ICA and Katusha riders.
Katusha-Alpecin is currently home to Brits Alex Dowsett and Harry Tanfield, while ICA’s current line-up includes Conor Dunne and former BMC Racing rider Ben Hermans.
ICA pro manager Kjell Carlstrom said: “The team has been growing each year in an organic way, both organisationally and also on the rider side, and we feel ready for this new challenge.
“We have great chemistry on this team, and I am proud of what we accomplished together.”
Adams added: “I want to thank Katusha management and its owner Igor Makarov for choosing to do this deal with us, as I know he had several options available.
“Igor’s contribution to our sport has been impressive and he will continue to support our sport.”