Here is the team riding with Chris Froome during his Israel Start-Up Nation debut 

The four-time Tour de France winner will kickstart the next step in his career at the UAE Tour 

(Image credit: B.Hodes)

Chris Froome is poised to kickstart the next step in his career, as he makes his Israel Start-Up Nation debut in the Middle East.  

The British Grand Tour star will be racing the UAE Tour, the first WorldTour race of the season, from Sunday (February 21) until February 27.

Froome has parted ways with Ineos Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky) after a decade of dominance in the biggest races, as he tries to re-find his old form after is career-threatening crash in 2019. 

Israel Start-Up Nation have now revealed the team that will be joining Froome in the UAE, including veteran sprinter Andre Greipel and British time trial specialist Alex Dowsett. 

Froome said: “It is with much anticipation that I will be kicking off my 2021 season in Dubai at the UAE Tour. 

“It will be my first race with Israel Start-Up Nation and the start of a new an exciting adventure for me. I look forward to racing with my new team-mates and testing out my legs after a productive winter.” 

Along with Froome, Greipel and Dowsett, the Israel WorldTour team will be taking Ben Hermans, Omer Goldstein, Rick Zabel and Matthias Brändle to the week-long stage race. 

The team’s sports manager Rik Verbrugghe said:  “We aim for the highest results, but it is hard to put a number on that. We want to show that [Andre] Greipel is still in the highest ranks amongst sprinters, and that [Ben] Hermans and [Chris] Froome are strong climbers.”  

Kjell Carlstrom, the team manager at ISN, said: “Being as it’s Chris’s first race following a good and successful period of training and rehab, we expect him to use the UAE Tour as a building block to further develop his shape towards the bigger objectives that are waiting down the line.” 

Froome spent his winter training in California in the United States, as he underwent  further rehabilitation for his serious leg break, suffered in the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine.

The 35-year-old had been trying to address a power imbalance between his two legs after the injury, as he chases his goal of winning a fifth Tour de France title. 

ISN’s performance manager Paulo Saldanha said: “The UAE Tour will be a great opportunity to get Chris back to his race rhythm and speed. Above and beyond helping and supporting his team through the race, the race will be a good test of his newly balanced musculature.”

Dowsett said: “I am a looking forward to racing with Chris Froome. Last time Chris and I rode together was in 2011, when we were both on the Team Sky C-team, so this is surely going to be lots of fun.” 

The Israeli squad competing in the UAE is also a symbolic gesture for the team, owing to the previous tensions between the two nations. 

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Team owner, Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams said: “Last year I noted that our Israeli team was warmly welcomed in the UAE.

“Emiratis stood in line to get our riders’ autographs and souvenir bidons with the word ‘Israel’ emblazoned on them,” 

“I truly believe that sports interactions, such as ISN’s racing in the UAE Tour, were building blocks, bridging these new, very warm relations with our neighbours. Happy to be back.”  

Israel Start-Up Nation squad for the UAE Tour 2021

Chris Froome (GBr)

Alex Dowsett (GBr)

Andre Greipel (Ger)

Ben Hermans (Bel)

Omer Goldstein (Isr)

Rick Zabel (Ger)

Matthias Brändle (Aut)