Having enjoyed success in the two French stage races in which it has competed so far this season, Israel – Premier Tech has unveiled a versatile squad for this year’s Paris – Nice.

Combining a sprint group led by Pascal Ackermann and Hugo Hofstetter with the opportunistic and tactical prowess of Jakob Fuglsang and Hugo Houle, IPT will look to add to the victories claimed previously in France by Tom Van Asbroeck on the final day of the Tour de la Provence and Ethan Vernon to start the Tour des Alpes – Maritimes.

This year’s edition of the Race to the Sun begins in Les Mureaux, approximately 35 kilometers to the northwest of the French capital, on Sunday. A team time trial in Auxerre (stage 3), and summit finishes on Mount Brouilly (stage 4) and Auron (stage 7) will shape the GC.

“We need to do our best in the TTT to keep our GC options open,” says Sports Director Oscar Guerrero. “Then stage four, it’s a harder stage, with a lot of climbs, but climbs that suit Jakob very well. That will give us a picture of how we can focus for the final stages – whether that’s working towards a good GC result for Jakob, or looking for opportunities elsewhere.

“Hugo Houle knows this race very well. Last week [at the Faun Ardèche Classic] he was very strong, so we will look to him to help Jakob, but also to try and be in the breaks if required.”

Nonetheless, the race’s parcours also offers something for the sprinters, starting from the opening stage.

After their first competitive outing for IPT at last week’s UAE Tour, Ackermann will again have compatriots Michael Schwarzmann and Rick Zabel on hand to help with his lead-outs.

“We have three stages that we think are likely to end in a sprint – one, two, and five – and I believe they are good stages for Ackermann,” Guerrero adds. “Although it’s the start of the season, the lead-out did a good job in UAE, but we know that sprints in Europe are completely different.

“So, we hope that, with help from Hugo Hofstetter – who is our second option for the sprints – and Guillaume Boivin, we can do a good job for him. We want to give Ackermann the confidence that he can be there with the best guys, so we are looking to be fighting for the top fives, but ideally podiums and the wins.”

This will be IPT’s fifth appearance in the race. Houle achieved the team’s best result when he finished 13th overall in 2022, after being IPT’s sole rider to make it to Nice.

IPT at Paris – Nice

Riders: Pascal Ackermann (GER), Guillaume Boivin (CAN), Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), Hugo Hofstetter (FRA), Hugo Houle (CAN), Michael Schwarzmann (GER), Rick Zabel (GER)

Sports Directors: Oscar Guerrero, Sep Vanmarcke, Pat McCarty