Union Cycliste Internationale — the sport’s world governing body — has commended the Israel Cycling Federation (ICF) following a season of great progress and achievement on the track.
In a statement, the UCI praised Shani Bloch and Shlomi Haimy for their efforts at the Rio Olympics. Bloch finished a “commendable” 48th in the women’s road race. A 37-year-old mother of three, Bloch was the first female cyclist from Israel to compete at the Olympics in 56 years.
Haimy became the first ever Israel mountain biker at the Games. He completed the first lap of the men’s race in the lead group of five before suffering two flat tyres and finishing 29th.
The UCI praised the pair’s achievements as “not down to pure chance”.
In the past three years, the ICF has developed the sport at all levels and across different disciplines. Guided by its President Dr Yoni Yarom and CEO Yaron Dor, they have introduced,the Bikes4All project which has established more than 100 new cycling clubs for youth across the country. Many clubs operate in underprivileged communities, with the project bringing together Jewish and Arab children in a friendly environment.
The project is co-funded by the ICF, the Ministry for Sports and Culture and local government as well as private sponsors and donors.
Israel’s first UCI Continental Team, Cycling Academy Team, was established in 2015 with the backing of World Champion Peter Sagan. Last season its members won stages in the Tour Azerbaijan and the Tour de Berlin. There were five national champions in the team from as many countries.
Founders Ron Baron and former pro cyclist Ran Margoliot have been notified of promotion to the next level Pro-Continental Team with the prospect of invitations to compete at the higher level in the Classics including the Tour of Britain in 2017.They are currently signing new riders from around the world and all will display the Israeli flag on their racing jerseys.
Israel’s first cycling track is set to open at the Tel Aviv Olympic Sports Complex in 2018.