The Israel Start-up Nation cycling team is pulling out of five races this month after three staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
But the team and Ottawa rider Michael Woods will compete as scheduled in the Tour de Suisse, which starts Thursday and runs through June 13.
Founded in 2014 as the Israel Cycling Academy, Team Israel Start-Up Nation is co-owned by Canadian-born Sylvan Adams, a former Canadian Masters cycling champion who emigrated to Israel in 2015.
Woods has ties to both Adams and team performance director Paulo Saldanha, also a Canadian.
Israel Start-Up Nation will not take part in the Grosser Preis des Kantons Aargau (June 4, Switzerland), Dwars door het Hageland (June 5, Belgium), Elfstedenronde (June 6, Belgium), Baloise Belgium Tour (June 9-13) and Adriatica Ionica Race (June 14-18, Italy).
"Obviously, we would have liked to line up in these great races, for which the riders have trained hard to do well," team GM Kjell Carlstrom said in a statement. "However, the health of our staff and riders, as well as safeguarding all other teams, will always come first. We don’t want to take any risk that may jeopardize anyone. In a situation like this, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
The team says it can keep its race bubble intact for the Tour de Suisse given none of the staff members or riders involved have been in contact with any of the affected personnel. The team cited the same reason for competing in the Criterium du Dauphine, which started Sunday.
Hugo Houle of Sainte-Perpetue, Que., will ride for the Astana-Premier Tech team in the Tour de Suisse
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2021
The Canadian Press