Nelson Mandela famously stated, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”

A prominent example of that edict can be seen in Sylvan Adams, co-owner of the Israel Cycling Academy (ICA) and its professional unit called Team Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN).  This pro team will be making history on August 29th when it will become the first Israel based team to race in the Tour de France, the most prestigious and hardest bicycle race in the world.

Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams is using this platform and playing the sports card to try to change the image of Israel as mired in conflict and to promote its normalization with the Arab world.

In light of the historic peace agreement reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Team Israel Start-Up Nation is proud to have played a role in bringing the two countries together.

“Without hyperbole, I believe that our cycling project helped in this peace process”, stated Adams. “I am thrilled that Israel has reached a peace pact with our neighbors in the UAE.”

Cycling began to help warm relations between the countries at the 2018 Giro d’Italia ‘Big Start’ which began in Jerusalem, a historic event initiated by Adams. Two years later, in February 2020, it was the turn of the UAE to welcome the first-ever Israeli pro cycling team to compete in the UAE Tour. Team Israel Start-Up Nation proudly crossed the Emirates from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, with a squad including Israeli cyclist Omer Goldstein.

“The Israeli people welcomed team UAE (and the team from Bahrain) with open arms,” Adams recalled.  “The ISN team rode through the streets of Dubai, and were cheered by locals, while our riders were asked for autographs and souvenir bottles, with the name Israel emblazoned upon them.”

Cycling is not the only sport to have helped strengthen connections between Israel and the UAE. Israel’s national judo team (which Adams actively supports) competed in an international tournament in Abu Dhabi in 2018. Having won a gold medal, the Israeli national anthem was played publicly.

“Through sport, we are building bridges and new friendships while breaking down barriers so that this will be a warm peace between neighbors,” concluded Adams.

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To watch their historic journey to the United Arab Emirates, go to

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