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Michael Woods to join Israel Start-Up Nation in 2021

"Rusty" will race Classics and be Froome's right hand man in Grand Tours

Photo by: Sirotti

Wednesday began with the surprising news that Michael “Rusty” Woods is joining Israel Start-Up Nation for three seasons after five years with EF Pro Cycling.

Israel Start-Up Nation has signed five new riders for 2021 in the last couple of weeks: Chris Froome, Woods, Daryl Impey, Carl Fredrick Hagen and Patrick Bevin.

Woods will be ISUN’s main hilly Classics rider and right-hand man for Froome in the Grand Tours.

Woods knows that he’ll be joining at least two Canadians at ISUN, as Alex Cataford and James Piccoli are signed until 2022. Guillaume Boivin’s contract is up at the end of the season.

Woods and Piccoli had similar paths to ISUN, via Canadian co-owner Sylvan Adams and performance manager Paulo Saldanha. In an ISUN press release, Woods said, “Paulo and Sylvan are the reason that I am a pro cyclist today. I first met Paulo in 2013, and he immediately took me under his wing. He pushed me to quit my jobs working as a bank teller and at a bike shop, and he told me I had the ability to be a pro. Because of my age (27 at the time), I was too old to qualify for government grants or get a place on a development team. It was difficult for me to justify leaving my job. However, Paulo connected me with Sylvan, and the two of them invested in me when nobody else would. Through their support and belief, I managed to rise through the cycling ranks and make it to the highest level of the sport.”

In his time with EF Pro Cycling Woods came seventh in the 2017 Vuelta a España, took second in the 2018 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, earned a Vuelta stage victory in 2018, placed third in the 2018 World Championships and won the 2019 Milano-Torino. The COVID-19 pandemic interruption coincided with Woods’ recovery from a broken femur suffered in Paris-Nice. Woods was 35th in Strade Bianche and 65th in Milan-San Remo.