Photo: Brian Hodes | Velo Images

There is a strong Canadian connection at the core of the Israeli Cycling Academy. The Israeli team has a diverse identity with riders from five continents, 16 countries and members from the world’s three largest Abrahamic relgions—Judaism, Chrsitianity and Islam—on the 2018 squad. The team is set for their biggest season to date in the coming year. While their participation in the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia has yet to be confirmed, the start of the Italian grand tour is on Israeli soil with things looking set for the UCI pro continental team to make their grand tour debut.

The Israeli Cycling Academy was founded in 2014 as Israel’s first professional cycling team. The team is co-owned by Canadian real-estate investor Sylvan Adams who worked for many years in Montreal running the family business before emigrating to Israel in his retirement. Adams played a pivotal role in bringing the 2018 Giro d’Italy to Israel.

“Despite its focus on developing Israeli cyclists, Israeli Cycling Academy is one of the most diverse pro cycling teams, with riders from 16 different nations on 5 continents represented on the team. Our athletes understand that being on an Israeli team, they are each ambassadors for the team’s home country,” Adams said in the teams press release.

Two Canadians count on the team’s 2018 roster. Guillaume Boivin, 28, and Ben Perry, 23, were part of the squad during their inaugural season at the pro continental level and will surely be hoping to break the roster for the Giro.

The team bolstered their line-up for 2018 bringing in Tour de France stage winner Spaniard Ruben Plaza and Italian Kristian Sbaragli a winner of a Stage at the 2014 Vualta a Espana. The team also counts four national champions in the ranks. Turkish ITT champion Ahmet Örken, Israeli road champion Roy Goldstein, Israeli ITT champion Guy Sagiv and Latvian road champion Krists Neilands.

The symbolism of bringing the world’s three major monotheistic religions together as well as riders from all over the world is important to the team’s identity. As a non-profit team, the organizations values, ethos and commitment to social change make it more than just a professional sporting organization. This was recognized in the team unveiling on Thursday with the team being presented the Peres Center Ambassador for Peace award.

Roni Baron (left)m Chemi Peres (centre) and Sylvan Adams (right). Photo: Brian Hodes | Velo Images

“Our team bonding camp held this week in Israel was intended to familiarize, educate, but mostly get the riders to bond together and enjoy their experience in Israel amongst its people,” Adams said. “The power of our Israeli Cycling Academy project to bring this diverse group together to ride under our Israeli colours in pursuit of common goals gives me and these fine athletes great pride.”

The team envisions the diversity expanding in the coming years. “The vision and main goal of the team is to instill a love of cycling among young Israelis from all backgrounds,” team founder and co-owner Roni Baron said. “The team announced the signing of an 18 year old Druze cyclist, Sanad Abu Faris, to our youth team. We believe that in the not too distant future, the Academy will also include Arab and Palestinian riders. That is what we are aiming towards.”

2018 Israel Cycling Academy roster

Edwin Alvila (Colombia, 27)
Guillaume Boivin (Canada, 28)
Zak Dempster (Australia, 30)
Jose Manuel Diaz (Spain, 22)
Nathan Earle (Australia, 29)
Sondre Holst Enger (Norway, 23)
Omer Goldstein (Israel, 21)
Roy Goldstein (Israel, 24)
Ben Hermans (Belgium, 31)
August Jensen (Norway, 26)
Luis Lemus (Mexico, 25)
Krists Neilands (Latvia, 23)
Guy Niv (Israel, 23)
Ahmet Örken (Turkey, 24)
Ben Perry (Canada, 23)
Ruben Plaza (Spain, 37)
Mihkel Raim (Estonia, 24)
Guy Sagiv (Israel, 22)
Kristian Sbaragli (Italy, 27)
Hamish Schreurs (New Zealand, 23)
Daniel Turek (Czech Republic, 24)
Dennis van Winden (Netherlands, 29)
Tyler Williams (USA, 22)
Aviv Yechezkel (Israel, 23)

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