Irish champion signs for Israel Cycling Academy

Irish road race champion Conor Dunne has signed on with the Israel Cycling Academy (ICA), bringing to an end a period of huge uncertainty around his professional career.

The London-born cyclist was on the books of Irish-based team Aqua Blue Sport, but that outfit went out of business in August and he had been unable to attract a contract offer from anywhere else.

The ICA have signed him up for the 2019 season, meaning he will compete at world level next year. The ICA are a Pro Continental team operating in pro cycling’s second tier, behind World Tour teams.

This means they won’t ride in any of the sport’s three Grand Tours, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, unless they receive an organisers invitation.

Aqua Blue operated at the same level and gained an invite to the 2017 Vuelta, with Dunne, the tallest cyclist in the peloton at 204cm/6’8″, making it through the gruelling three-week race. ICA competed at this year’s Giro, which started in Israel.

“The clear goal is to be up there in the hunt in every single race,” said ICA Chief Sports Director Kjell Carlstrom.

“We need intelligent, smart and capable riders to support our sprinters and climbers. That is exactly why we could not miss on Conor.

“He has race smarts; he knows when and how to move in the peloton as you can see from his quite successful breakaway attempts rate.

“Of course everybody wants to get to a breakaway but few make it. We will need him in breakaways, we will need him to close a breakaway, we will need him to support his teammates in crucial moments. Bottom line, he will be very valuable to us all season long.”