Israeli professional cycling team Israel – Premier Tech joined with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum and the Israeli Cycling Federation in organizing a mass solidarity ride on January 14. The ride will mark the 100th day since the October 7 Hamas attacks and advocate for the return of more than 100 hostages still held in Gaza.
With encouragement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, tens of thousands of cyclists are signed up for the ride and related events to be held simultaneously at the Velodrome in Tel Aviv and in several major cities across the globe.
In addition to cycling events planned for Barcelona, Paris, London, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Brussels and elsewhere, cyclists everywhere are being encouraged to go for a ride on January 14 with yellow ribbons tied to their bikes, and to upload photos of their rides to social media with the hashtag #RideToBringThemHomeNow.
At the Velodrome in Tel Aviv, 133 family members of the hostages and cyclists from the Israeli cycling community, representing each of the hostages, will encircle the cycling stadium. Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome 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 the 100th day of the kidnapping, 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.
Froome said he was moved to action by the story of the Kalderon family, whose father Ofer and 12-year-old son Erez, both cyclists, were abducted on October 7 along with Erez’s 16-year-old sister, Sahar. Erez and Sahar were released after 51 days in captivity, but Ofer is still being held prisoner in Gaza.
“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,” said Froome.
Hadas Kalderon, Erez and Sahar’s mother, thanked Froome and the team. “This is an incredibly important show of support,” she said. “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. Every moment that passes for him and the other hostages in Hamas captivity is critical.”
Shai Benjamin, daughter of 57-year-old cyclist Ran Benjamin, who was taken hostage while out for his Saturday ride on October 7, 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?”
Czech cyclist Lukas Klement, 28, plans to ride for 24 full hours this weekend, creating a course in the shape of a Star of David and the number “100.” He did a similar trip in October, biking 3,000 kilometers across Central Europe in the shape of a Star of David. Klement explained that last year, his bike was stolen after a mountain biking event in Israel, and fellow Israeli cyclists chipped in to buy him a new one.
“I have the time, the passion, and, especially, the most important cause to ride for. I just need to find a yellow ribbon,” Klement said.
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.”
Produced in association with ISRAEL21c
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