The Sylvan Adams National Velodrome in Tel Aviv was the backdrop for a meet and greet with up and coming Israeli cyclists in what was an inspiring opportunity for ISN’s riders to share their stories.
Around 50 young riders joined the team in the velodrome for the chance to meet the WorldTour and Conti riders and hear about their pathways into becoming professional riders.
“Nothing makes me happier than seeing all of you training in the velodrome and learning these valuable skills,” said ISN co-owner Sylvan Adams. “Nobody in Israel had really ever heard of a velodrome before we built this one. This velodrome is an important piece of cycling infrastructure. We actually modelled it a little bit on the British Cycling model in Manchester, which helped them to become a cycling powerhouse. We thought “Why can’t we do it?”. This is a pathway for you, we are here to support you, but most importantly, enjoy it.”
There was a sense of excitement in the velodrome when some of ISN’s riders stood in front of the group to share their journeys as cyclists.
The most touching moment was when Sep Vanmarcke spoke his heart to the youngsters, telling them about his humble start to the sport:
“When I grew up and wanted to start riding, my parents could not afford to by me a new bike. At last, we found an old beaten-up bike, but it was ok. I did not care. My parents worked hard for everything and eventually I made it. I hope you remember this story,” said Sep who was clearly emotional. “If you really want it, nothing will stop you.”
Chris Froome: “I grew up in Kenya where cycling is not a big sport. I was riding a MTB so I wasn’t thinking about racing at all. I enjoyed it because it was my freedom. It allowed me to get out, explore the bush, see friends. I loved it, just loved riding my bike. It wasn’t about racing or training or going fast. It was about being outside and enjoying riding. There was no velodrome, I had no idea it existed. It was only when I went to boarding school in South Africa at the age of 17 or 18 that I saw the Tour de France for the first time. I remember seeing thousands of people along the roads and thinking I want to get there one day.”
“Here, you have people to look up to. You have a velodrome, where you can still enjoy just being on the bike but at the same time, there is a path for you to get into professional cycling. My advice is to believe in yourselves but most importantly, enjoy riding your bikes.”
Alex Dowsett: “When I was a kid I was told I wasn’t able to do contact sports like football or rugby, because they were dangerous for me as a haemophiliac. But being fit and healthy was important so we tried to find a sport I could do safely. Cycling is safe until you crash. The velodrome and system here in Israel are quite similar to the British cycling system that I grew up in, a place that provided opportunities to try new sports like cycling. If I hadn’t had that, I wouldn’t have started cycling or had the opportunities I had. So for me, this venue is phenomenal.”
The meet and greet was also a chance for the young riders to meet ISN’s newest team members.
Giacomo Nizzolo: “Sprinting is tough and we don’t just have to sprint, but also get over the climbs. So sprinting is a matter of teamwork. I really believe in this team and we have a great team for the sprints. So I hope it will make my life easier.”