• Dan Martin leads Israeli team in Italy – 
  • DS, Nicki Sørensen: Dan for GC, but also looking for stage wins – 
  • Eyes on the time trials with Dowsett, Brändle and Bevin – 
  • De Marchi: The key is to be ready at the right moment –

Amore infinito: Infinite love. The Giro d’Italia holds a special place in the heart of the Israel Start-Up Nation team. In 2019, the Giro started in Jerusalem, and the Israel Cycling Academy received a wild-card invitation to the race. It was our first Grand Tour, but far from our last one! In many ways, the Giro planted the seed for the existence of the WorldTour Israel Start-Up Nation team.

3,471 kilometers. 47,000 meters of climbing. 21 stages. Two individual time trials. 13 mountain stages, of which six are high-mountain stages. Six flat stages.

Those are the numbers. But what does it mean in reality? A real challenge, and a challenge that we are up for!

We are heading into our third Giro with our strongest team ever. Dan Martin and Alex Dowsett won stages, respectively, in the Tour de France and the Giro in the shortened 2020 season.

“The Giro is a race of constant challenges: it throws something different at you every day, which leads to a truly worthy winner. My aim is to fight every day, take opportunities when they come my way and really embrace this beautiful historic race,” Dan said.

“One thing that is for sure is that we will have a great atmosphere and try to race with a smile. There are so many tough stages that I’m really just aiming to take it day by day and enjoy each day as it comes.”

Plus, Dan has won stages in both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España and wants to round out his collection with a Giro win.

Dan, of course, will be going for the GC in this, his third, Giro. He will be ably supported by our Italian climber Alessandro De Marchi on the many difficult climbs. Our other Italian, Davide Cimolai, is eager for the sprints in his homeland Grand Tour.

We have a definite eye on the opening and closing time trials – why not, with Alex Dowsett and Matthias Brändle on the squad? And let’s not forget Patrick Bevin, who may well pull off a big surprise.

Krists Neilands and Guy Niv are ready for not only domestique duty but are also chomping at the bit to get into an escape group – and one that will make it all the way to the end of the stage.

“Our main goal is a top GC result with Dan, but we will also look for stage results,” says DS Nicki Sørensen. “Breakaways are good, and we will have a go in the sprint stages, as Davide is ready to surprise.”

“We are very much looking forward to the two time-trials,” he added. “Paddy, Matthias, and Alex have a chance at a top result.”


Patrick “Paddy” Bevin, New Zealand, 30, 1st Giro

“I am excited to be heading into my first Giro. First and foremost, the team is going to racing for the GC with Dan, so that takes priority over the three weeks. I hope to be able to take my chances and race aggressively late in the race.”

Nicki: “Paddy is like most of the riders we have here in the Giro, in top condition and seeing him in the Basque Country race was something special.  He keeps improving his TTs as well and I will not be surprised if we see him doing something really good already on the opening TT in Torino.”

Matthias Brändle, Austria, 31, 5th Giro

“I am really happy that I made the Giro squad.  It’s my favourite race of the season – the atmosphere, the restaurants, the hotels, the landscapes.

“We are going full focus for Dan Martin which was going quite well at Tour of the Alpes, and he will be really a strong leader. He showed last year in the Vuelta what he can do. Of course, we want to do a good GC, but the others have chances, too, in the ITTS and breakaways like Alex last year. So yeah I am really looking forward to the Giro.”

Nicki: “Matthias showed great form in Turkey and this secured his spot in this very strong Giro team. He is solid, dependable and he keeps on adding a bit of strength every year.”

Davide Cimolai, Italy, 31, 3rd Giro

Our Italian sprinter is, naturally, molto excited. “It’s always beautiful to ride in my country – I love the landscape, the people, the food! There are many stages for a sprinter, my form is good, and my dream is to win the Grado – Gorizia stage in my region.”

“Cimo” has an extra reason to be excited: he will soon become a dad for the first time. Congrats!

Nicki: “The team often does well when he is in the race. We expect to see him fighting for top results in the sprints. And his great ability to stay in ideal position in the bunch makes him very helpful to Dan in the non-sprint stages.”

Alessandro De Marchi, Italy, 34, 5th Giro

“I am really happy to be at the start of the Giro, and for an Italian it is easy to understand that this is something special. The first goal of the season was to be ready for the Giro, to be selected, and to be in shape. Everything is ok, is in the right place, and I’m happy to arrive at the Giro in the situation I was looking for.

“The team has GC goals with our strong Dan Martin, who deserves good support through the three weeks, so this is going to be my first role. But I will also look for some opportunity for me in some stages.  I know that the Giro is always a really open race, unpredictable. The key is to be ready at the right moment and take an opportunity if you have it.”

Nicki: “I have always admired him as a rider. He is strong as an ox and he has this ‘never give up’ attitude that is so valuable in a pro rider.”

Alex Dowsett, Great Britain, 32, 4th Giro

“I’m looking forward to another Giro. I’m going into it with the same attitude I always have, and that’s to do a good job for the team. If some opportunities come my way, that’s great. I haven’t picked out any stages as such, I just take each stage as it comes, and if the team gives me the green light to go in a breakaway, I’ll give it a go.

“But, of course, the priority will be Dan and helping him get a good overall GC result.”

Nicki: “Dowsett has been improving in form during this season and we will see another strong Giro from him. His stage win last year was something special. He is strong tactically and understands teamwork, so he is often used as a “right hand” for me when I am with races with him.”

Dan Martin, Ireland, 34, 3rd Giro

“I’m really excited to be finally heading back to the Giro. I rode it in 2010 as my second Grand Tour ever, in 2010, and I took a beating. 2014 didn’t exactly go to plan so I really have a score to settle with the race. Hopefully it is third time lucky.

“My lack of experience in the race could be a disadvantage but right now it feels like a huge motivating factor as I head off on what feels like a new adventure. I’ve always loved racing in Italy and my condition is improving all the time after a number of setbacks so far this season, meaning I have yet to show my true colours.

“I learnt a lot about myself at the Vuelta last year and also how to lead a team so I will take that experience to Italy where we have a super strong and motivated group to both support me and aim for stage victories when the opportunity arises.”

Nicki: “Dan is in great shape and has ambitions of doing big results in this Giro. He will have full support from the team to reach his/our goals.”

Krists Neilands, Latvia, 26, 3rd Giro

“The Giro has always been one of my favorite races, so I’m happy to be there again this year. The main goal for the team will be Dan Martin for GC, so I will do my best to help him and stay around him to get a great result for the team. If there will be any chance to go for the breakaway myself than I will make sure I use this opportunity.”

“I think my form is very good – in the Ardennes I felt great. Now I just need a couple of days to recover and will be ready for the Giro adventure.”

Nicki: “Krists is a core member of ISN. There is almost never a race where he is not a big part of this team’s success and he is going strong this year.”

Guy Niv, Israel, 27, 3rd Giro

“Super happy to be back in the Giro. My clear goal is to support Dan as much as possible. We saw in the Alps how strong he is, and it’s exciting to support this kind of leader in such a big race.”

“Hopefully, if the race situation allows it, I’ll try to find some opportunities to also get a nice personal result in a stage. Obviously, I’m more excited about the mountain stages than the flat ones!”

Nicki: “Guy keeps on improving and is finding himself more and more in the roles where he can contribute to team success.”

Read all about the 21 stages of the Giro d’Italia in our ISN preview by clicking here!