newsOctober 7

Tens of thousands to cycle for release of Gaza hostages

“Our freedom ride showcases our values of sportsmanship and fairness in contrast to the brutality of Hamas,” said Israel–Premier Tech team owner Sylvan Adams.

The Israel-Premier Tech cycling team special edition jersey was inspired by the Israel National Trail. Credit: Israel-Premier Tech.
The Israel-Premier Tech cycling team special edition jersey was inspired by the Israel National Trail. Credit: Israel-Premier Tech.

A mass solidarity ride will take place around the world on Jan. 14 to mark the 100th day since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

The event is being organized by the Israeli professional cycling team Israel—Premier Tech, together with The Hostage and Missing Families Forum and the Israeli Cycling Federation.

Tens of thousands of cyclists are expected to take part in the ride and in special cycling events held simultaneously at the Velodrome in Tel Aviv and several major capitals across the globe, including Barcelona, Paris, London, Melbourne and Los Angeles.

Cyclists everywhere are being encouraged to go for a ride on Jan. 14 with yellow ribbons tied to their bikes, and to upload photos to social media with the #RideToBringThemHomeNow.

Chris Froome, the four-time Tour de France winner, has joined the campaign, calling on the entire global cycling community to tie a yellow ribbon to their bikes and to 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, who competes for Israel—Premier Tech, explaining that he was motivated to action by the story of the Kalderon family. Father Ofer and 12-year-old son Erez, both cyclists, were abducted on Oct. 7.

Erez was released after 51 days in captivity Ofer is still being held by Hamas.

“Their suffering and that of all the other hostages 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.

Earlier this year, Froome embarked on a two-day cycling adventure on the Israel National Trail, exploring the Jewish state’s diverse topography.

A video of his journey titled “Israel: An Epic Journey” and accompanied by retired Israel-Premier Tech cyclist Guy Niv and Israel Premier Tech women’s team member Jasmine Kernen was released to promote Israel at the Tour de France competition.

“I hope that Jan. 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,” said Sylvan Adams, owner of the Israel–Premier Tech team.

“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,” he added.

In August, Adams won the (65-69) Masters age category at the 2023 UCI Gran Fondo World Championship held in Perth, Scotland, conquering the 87-kilometer (54-mile) route. Two days later, he won the 22-kilometer (13.67-mile) trial by more than a minute.

Adams previously won world championships in velodromes while representing Canada in 2013 and 2015. However, the latest triumphs marked his first world championship victories as an Israeli cyclist.

Hadas Kalderon, Erez’s mother, thanked Froome and the Israel—Premier Tech team for their support and the initiative to unite the cycling world.

“This is an incredibly important show of support. Erez regained his freedom, but his father and all the other hostages 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 hostages in Hamas captivity is critical,” said Hadas.

In Israel, the main riding event will take place at the Velodrome in Tel Aviv, where cyclists and 133 family members of the hostages, representing each of the hostages, will encircle the stadium.

“Since Oct. 7, I have not had a day or night, just a continuous nightmare,” said Shai Benjamin, daughter of 57-year-old cyclist Ran Benjamin, who was taken hostage while out for his Saturday ride on Oct. 7.

“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?” he added.

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?”

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