Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with the Israel Start-Up Nation riders at a reception ceremony at his residence in Jerusalem this Sunday.
Chris Froome, Guy Niv, and the rest of the ISN riders all shook hands with President Herzog who afterward talked to the team, congratulating the riders on their performances and their work as ambassadors for the country.
“We welcome the team whole-heartedly and we bless you for representing Jerusalem and Israel in the world of cycling. This team shows incredible professionalism, and we are honored to have you all here today. We are very proud to see the team formatting into a world-class team and we believe that you will only continue to get better and get more results next year,” President Herzog told the riders.
At the reception, ISN co-owner, Sylvan Adams, also pointed out how important is it to have this Israeli homecoming camp take place.
“It’s very important for us to bring the team to Israel to introduce the riders to our home country in order to make them understand what Israel really is, as we are all ambassadors for the nation. We don’t have a sponsor like other teams, our brand is Israel, and we carry the name Israel everywhere we go. Another mission of ours is to help make the world a better place and we try to use the sport to build bridges and to make new friends around the world,” Adams said.
For four-time Tour de France winner, Froome, this is his first trip as a tourist to Israel, and it’s a visit he has enjoyed immensely these first days of the camp. He then explained how much it meant to him to meet the next generation of Israeli riders this past Saturday.
“In this team, one of our biggest visions is to inspire the new generation of Israeli cyclists. Yesterday, when we met our young fans, it was clear to see how they were all dreaming of becoming professional riders. You could see their eyes sparkle when they met the team, and to witness that vision of ours being realized right now is such a joy,” Froome told President Herzog at the reception.
One rider who has taken the journey from a hopeful Israeli kid to the biggest stage in the world is Israel Start-Up Nation’s own Guy Niv. “I am the kid who fulfilled the dream that this team was founded for. My Bar Mitzvah gift was the opportunity to see the Tour de France riders on the side of the road, and 13 years later, I became the first Israeli to compete in the Tour. This is the message we are sending to all the children of Israel: It is possible,” 27-year-old Niv said.
On Monday, the ISN Homecoming Camp continues as the team moves from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.