Cyclists join the solidarity ride at Tel Aviv's National Sylvan Adams National Velodrome marking 100 days of captivity for those being held by Hamas in Gaza, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo: Courtesy.
Cyclists join the solidarity ride at Tel Aviv's National Sylvan Adams National Velodrome marking 100 days of captivity for those being held by Hamas in Gaza, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo: Courtesy.
featureOctober 7

‘Ride for freedom marks 100 days of our people in captivity’

Tens of thousands of cyclists around the world responded to Israel-Premier Tech owner Sylvan Adams’s call to join the ride in over 40 cities across the globe. 

A mass solidarity ride kicked off at Tel Aviv’s Sylvan Adams National Velodrome on Sunday, with 136 riders, one for each hostage still being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, marking the 100th day of their captivity. 

The event was organized by the Israeli professional cycling team UCI WorldTeam Israel–Premier Tech, together with the Hostage and Missing Families Forum and the Israeli Cycling Federation.

Former captive Sahar Kalderon, whose father, Ofer Kalderon, a cyclist, is still held by Hamas in Gaza, speaks at the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome in Tel Aviv, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo: Courtesy. 

Tens of thousands of cyclists around the world responded to Israel-Premier Tech owner Sylvan Adams’s call to join the ride in over 40 cities across the globe, including Barcelona, Paris, London, Melbourne and Los Angeles. 

They were asked to tie yellow ribbons to their bikes and upload photos to social media with the #RideToBringThemHomeNow tag.

“It should be the imperative of all decent people that our hostages, taken illegally without regard to any conventional norms or legal rules, be released immediately,” Adams told JNS. 

“We know from the hostages released to date that they suffered brutal physical and psychological abuse by their captors, and we fear for the fate of those still in captivity,” he added.

On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists stormed Israel’s southern border with Gaza, destroying over 20 Israeli towns and villages, killing some 1,200 people and taking an additional 240 into Gaza.

The massacre triggered an Israeli campaign to destroy Hamas as a military and political entity in Gaza, and to secure the hostages’ return. 

In late November, 110 captives were released as part of a week-long ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. Some 136 hostages are still believed to be in Gaza.

Participants prepare for action at the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome in Tel Aviv, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo: Courtesy.

Adams emphasized that the freedom ride was meant to showcase values of sportsmanship, decency and fairness, in complete contrast to “the despicable behavior exhibited by Hamas.”

“As such, my Israel-Premier Tech professional cycling team has organized this international ride for freedom marking 100 days of our people in captivity,” said Adams. 

“This ride will take place in a couple of dozen important cities on six continents, and will be orchestrated from the velodrome that bears my name in Tel Aviv. I hope that a massive number join us internationally in this ride for freedom. Bring them home now. Am Yisrael chai,” he added. 

Adams, 65, a Canadian-Israeli philanthropist, made aliyah in 2015 and has worked to serve as an unofficial ambassador by presenting the story of the “normal” Israel to the world over the last decade.

Last November, Adams blasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former U.S. President Barack Obama for “playing both sides” in a conflict of “good vs. evil.”

In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks, Adams made a $100 million donation to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in order to strengthen the south of Israel; the university lost 82 members of its community in the massacre. 

Itamar Einhorn, an Israeli who rides for Israel–Premier Tech, also recorded a video asking viewers to join the ride. 

“I was racing in China on Oct. 7. Just a few months ahead of the attacks, I was cycling really close to Gaza for a championship and I stayed in one of the villages in that area which was not attacked. A lot of places I saw with my own eyes were [in] Hamas’s videos,” Einhorn told JNS. 

“To see them waving their guns and shooting, doing all sorts of horrible things, was extremely shocking for me. It was very hard for me to finish the race despite what was happening. It’s a hard situation, but the Jewish people and us Israelis always try to stay positive,” he added. 

Einhorn is training in Spain and will be joining the ride from there.  

“As an Israeli and as a human being, I think it is ridiculous to have to fight for the release of hostages that were taken away only because they are Israeli,” said Einhorn. 

“I hope this ride and everything else I do brings attention to the cause and helps put Israel on the right side of the map. All the Jewish people want is to live in peace,” he added.  

Israel–Premier Tech is at a training camp in Marbella in the South of Spain and will take part in the ride from there, uploading pictures to social media. 

“For me it means a lot as an Israeli in an Israeli team. I want to raise awareness on the fact that we still have hostages in Gaza 100 days later,” Oded Kogut, who also rides for Israel–Premier Tech, told JNS. 

“I can’t imagine what they are going through. Some of them are wounded and some of them might be dead. We cannot forget them and we need to do as much as we can to save them and bring them back home,” he added. 

A man lights candles to mark 100 days since the start of the war during a protest in Tel Aviv, Jan. 13, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Kogut had been scheduled to fly back to Israel on Oct. 8, but his flight was canceled. 

“I felt just useless. It was horrible, reading the news, understanding what was happening and knowing that I couldn’t do anything to help the situation in my country,” said Kogut.

“I will continue to try to give my country hope by training as hard as I can to bring our flag to the biggest stages and races in the world. It just makes me more motivated to show where I come from and give the next generation hope and dreams to chase,” he added. 

A 24-hour rally marking 100 days since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, at “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that medicine would be transferred to hostages in Gaza as part of a deal spearheaded by Mossad chief David Barnea. 

On Saturday, an estimated 120,000 people attended the beginning of a 24-hour rally in Tel Aviv marking 100 days of the hostages’ captivity and calling for their release.

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