Israel – Premier Tech, together with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum and the Israeli Cycling Federation, announced today that it will hold a mass solidarity ride around the world to mark the 100th day since the 7 October attacks and the kidnapping of hundreds of people to Gaza.
Tens of thousands are expected to take part in individual solidarity rides and many others in the special cycling events held simultaneously at the Velodrome in Tel Aviv and several major capitals across the globe. In addition to cycling events planned for Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, London, Melbourne, Los Angeles (Santa Monica and Thousand Oaks), Miami, Atlanta, St Louis, Guatemala City, Hong Kong, Punta del Este, and elsewhere, cyclists everywhere are being encouraged to go for a ride on 14 January with yellow ribbons tied to their bikes, and to upload photos of their rides to social media with the hashtag #RideToBringThemHomeNow.
Chris Froome, the legendary four-time Tour de France winner, considered one of the greatest cyclists in history, has joined the campaign, calling on his millions of fans and the entire global cycling community to tie a yellow ribbon to their bikes on 14 January – the 100th day of the kidnapping – and dedicate their ride to calling for the release of the hostages.
“As a human being, as a father myself – I cannot stand idly by,” said Froome, explaining that he was moved to action by the story of the Calderon family, whose father Ofer and 12-year-old son Erez, both cyclists, were abducted on 7 October. The son, Erez, was released after 51 days in captivity, but his father is still being held by Hamas.
“Their suffering and that of all the other captives deeply affects me, and I call on all cyclists to come out for a solidarity ride that day – just as I will myself – in the hope that this show of support will bring them closer to returning home,” Froome said.
Photo: IPT owner Sylvan Adams shows his support for the Ride To Bring Them Home Now
Sylvan Adams, owner of the Israel – Premier Tech team, said: “I hope that January 14 will become a day of freedom. It will be a call from those who believe in human values to free those children, women, the elderly, and adults who were taken as hostages by the Hamas terrorists in complete contradiction to every human norm. Our freedom ride showcases our values of sportsmanship and fairness in contrast to the brutality of Hamas. I hope that a massive number of people join us internationally in this ride for freedom. Am Yisrael Chai.”
Hadas Calderon, Erez’s mother, thanked Froome for his support and for the initiative to unite the global cycling community: “This is an incredibly important show of support. Erez regained his freedom, but his father and all the other captives are still languishing there. Erez deserves to be reunited with his father, to have the opportunity to ride with him like any father and son. He is so waiting for him. And we have no time to lose. Every moment that passes for him and the other captives in Hamas captivity is critical.”
In Israel, the main riding event will take place at the Velodrome in Tel Aviv, where 133 family members of the captives and cyclists from the Israeli cycling community, representing each of the hostages, will encircle the track.
With over 240 captured on 7 October, 133 people, including women and children, are still being held by Hamas, with the harrowing testimonies of released captives causing great distress among many family members whose loved ones are still there.
Photo: Participants are asked to ride with a yellow ribbon on their bikes to show their solidarity
“Since 7 October, I have not had a day or night, just a continuous nightmare,” said Shai Benjamin, daughter of 57-year-old cyclist Ron Benjamin, who was taken hostage while out for his Saturday ride. “Everything haunts me. Thoughts of what they are doing to him there. How he manages to survive. How can I sleep when I have no idea if my father can sleep at all. When I want to eat, I am tormented by the question of whether he is starving there. And why do I deserve to cover myself with a blanket when he might be cold?”
Shai expressed hope that the international cycling event would garner support among a public that could easily identify with her father’s fate and story: “I ask them to stop and think for a moment: my father was abducted, and his world and our family’s world were destroyed when he went out to ride his bicycle. That was his only ‘sin.’ What if it happened to them?”
Photo: Israeli road race champion Itamar Einhorn will #RideToBringThemHomeNow
Public cycling events will be held in several cities including Barcelona, Paris, London, Melbourne, New York, and cyclists everywhere are encouraged to ride with yellow ribbons in their residential areas and upload photos from the ride with the hashtag #RideToBringThemHomeNow.
Click here to visit the Hostages and Missing Familes Forum website.