The first riders have moved over from Katusha-Alpecin to Israel Cycling Academy following the team’s take over of Katusha’s WorldTour licence ahead of the 2020 season.
Rick Zabel and Mads Würtz Schmidt were under contract with Katusha for 2020, but will now move to the Israeli outfit. They are the 13th and 14th riders from the 23-man team to find a new squad, having both spent the last three years with the Russian outfit.
Uncertainty had reigned over the future of the Katusha squad for a number of months until Israel Cycling Academy confirmed their takeover of the team.
“We heard several things about what was going to happen,” Schmidt told Wielerflits. “I was hoping that we would go with Israel Cycling Academy and I am glad that it is finally over. We can now concentrate on racing again and help the team achieve its goals.”
While Inlur Zakarin found a new contract with CCC soon after the transfer window opened and Simon Špilak decided to retire, some notable riders still remain without teams for next year.
British time trial champion Alex Dowsett is one whose contract with Katusha expires at the end of 2019 and remains without a squa for next year, as is German Nils Politt, who finished second behind Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) at this year’s Paris-Roubaix.
Harry Tanfield, meanwhile, has found himself a spot on another WorldTour roster, his switch to Romain Bardet’s Ag2r La Mondiale being announced earlier this week.
Israel Cycling Academy made the step up to the WorldTour in order to secure a spot at the Tour de France, with ICA co-owner and founder Ron Baron saying that seeing an Israeli rider in the Tour next year will be “very satisfying”.
The team have made some notable signings as they ready themselves to step up to the top tier of professional cycling, signing Irishman Dan Martin from UAE Team Emirates and André Greipel from Arkéa-Samsic.
Speaking on their latest signings, team manager Kjell Carlstrom said: “We have attracted riders who can strengthen the team in multiple areas, such as the sprint train and in the classics.”