• The team launched a support-cycling project in the Rwandan village of Kibungo, in Bugesera District

  • ISN’s sponsors tune in for social project: lots of equipment donated

  • Team owners Adams and Baron also in Rwanda: ‘We are connected’

Friday: April 30. Bugesera, Rwanda. 

The Israel Start-Up Nation team, accompanied by team owners, Sylvan Adams and Ron Baron, and the Israeli Ambassador in Rwanda Ron Adam, visited Kibungo in Bugesera District, Rwanda to launch and pledge the support of the team to a cycling project in the village.

Israel Start-Up Nation is racing in the Tour du Rwanda for the fourth time in its history, this time also on a mission to explore ways of tightening the bonds between the team from Israel and Rwanda.

In the opening part of today’s visit, the team, its owners, and Ambassador Adam, arrived to the village of Kibungo to launch their inaugural project under the banner of “Racing for Change”, which will be a cycling project in the village.

At the center of this initiative is the women’s cycling club of Bugesera, who the team has started supporting with Israel Cycling Academy team kits, and equipment donated by the team’s various sponsors, including HJC Helmets, Orange Seal, Selle Italia, Maxxis, and more. The team mechanics also contributed by fixing bikes brought by school children. There are additional plans to develop this project by sending a coach from Israel to help instruct the team for a period of time.

During the visit to the village, the team and its owners met the girls who are part of the cycling club and visited the school and the community center.

“We hope this team will be a model for other communities in Africa,” said team co-owner Sylvan Adams. He also opened the door for Rwandan riders to join Israel Start-Up Nation, saying “There are great talents in this country. To me, the greatest thing will be to see a rider from Rwanda racing for us.”

Team co-owner Ron Baron says that Rwanda is a country Israel Start-Up Nation feels a special connection to. “The two countries, Israel and Rwanda, enjoy warm ties and we are proud to be here. I hope this project will be a seed to further develop and grow.”

Sports director Cherie Pridham, the first woman to direct a men’s WorldTour cycling team and the DS leading ISN in the Tour du Rwanda, attended the visit to Bugasera and witnessed the commencement of the team’s support of the Bugasera girls’ cycling club – the only girls’ club in the country. “I truly believe that there is a great potential here for the girls to take on cycling and [I’m] excited to take part of it,” she said. “To me, it is especially extraordinary as this country gave women so many opportunities.” Pridham met the girls and spent time talking and even riding with them and  the school kids as did the team’s riders. “It was really exciting to visit the village and witness the passion for cycling” said Israeli rider Guy Sagiv.

The team mechanics and riders joined with equipment that they brought with them and worked on fixing and maintaining many bikes. The team presented full kits to the girls’ club, gifted bikes to the community center and committed to occasionally sending expert male and females riders and coaches from Israel to support and develop cycling in the village, as well as offering scholarships to the best students. The project is supported not only by the team but also its sponsors and partners, including Vini Fantini, Maxxis, Orange Seal, HJC Helmets, Jinga, and many more.

About Israel Start-Up Nation:

Israel’s first professional cycling team was established in 2015 as “Israel Cycling Academy,” including riders from Israel and abroad. The team began to compete at a higher level when Sylvan Adams joined as a co-owner alongside Ron Baron. In 2018, Adams was the driving force behind bringing the prestigious Giro d’Italia to begin in Israel – one of cycling’s three Grand Tour races. This also saw the team compete in its first Grand Tour, with Guy Sagiv becoming the first Israeli to finish such a race. The team competed again in the Giro d’Italia in 2019, with Israeli Guy Niv completing the race. Later in 2019, the team took another historic step, joining the WorldTour (the highest level of professional cycling) for the first time under the name Israel Start-Up Nation, securing its place in the 2020 Tour de France. The team also secured its first Grand Tour stage victories in 2020, in both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. This year, the team has bolstered its roster with many top riders including four-time Tour de France winner, Chris Froome.

Photos: Sjors Beukeboom

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