In the spring of 2014, two cyclists met on the summit of Nes Harim, the legendary climb that draws hundreds of cyclists from the local Israeli bicycle community every Saturday.
The older of the two, Ron Bar On, was an Israeli businessman. The younger, Ran Margaliot, was barely 25, yet his professional career as a cyclist had come to an end a short time previously. This had ended his dream of being the first Israeli cyclist to compete in the greatest race of all – the Tour de France – in the hope of generating a revolution in this underdeveloped field of sport in Israel that provided no opportunities to the young generation of cyclists.
Six months later, the pair had launched a unique Israeli start-up – Israel Cycling Academy – the first Israeli professional team in the world. Academy’s vision aimed at actualizing a piece of Margaliot’s shattered dream and enabling talented young cyclists to compete in the international arena and launch their professional careers. This, they hoped, would provide inspiration, hope and faith to the new generation.
In 2017, the third year of Cycling Academy’s brief history, it seems that the team has made impressive headway, exceeding its founders’ expectations. With promising young cyclists from all over the world, the team participated in hundreds of race days, won dozens of them, and promoted those Israeli cyclists who were able to meet the uncompromising standards of this most demanding field of sport.
Canadian millionaire and philanthropist Sylvan Adams joined the team, first as a sponsor and then as one of its owners, greatly accelerating Academy’s development. The team rose to the second rank internationally and competes in increasingly important races. In parallel, an all-Israeli development team was established, serving as a hothouse for young cyclists before they join the older professionals.
Academy views itself as Israel’s ambassador in the world and utilises the great exposure it receives during races to promote Israel as a tourist destination in general, and for cycling enthusiasts in particular. Releasing that a trigger is needed to expedite its goals and vision, Israel Cycling Academy owners and management have initiated and pushed a drive to bring the Giro d’Italia to start in Israel for the first time ever. First efforts started at 2015 when the team helped facilitate The Giro’s organization visit to Jerusalem for discussions with it’s Mayor Nir Barkat. The talks intensified when Mr. Adams Joined the team as co-owner until the final decision was made.
In the next season, Academy’s team hopes to rise to a higher ranking and to participate in a Grand tour, Preferably the Giro. To further prepare the team to this enormous challenge, ICA Hierarchy has invested significant funds in upgrading the team dramatically and sign leading Pro riders. Having built a powerful and competitive squad , Israel cycling Academy hopes to be given the opportunity to ride in next year’s historic Giro d’Italia and write another chapter in Israel’s and the sport’s history.
Hundreds of professional teams currently compete around the world. Not one of them, however, is similar to the Cycling Academy, and not necessarily because of its athletic prowess. Academy is the only team whose budget is based mainly on philanthropy, and although it is an Israeli team, it is open to all cyclists regardless of religion or Nationality.