Israel-Premier Tech, the team of four time Tour de France champion Chris Froome, is set to introduce new safety measures in light of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which includes a blank training kit for riders.
As first reported by Wielerflits, riders and staff on the team recently made clear to team management that they did not feel comfortable driving cars with Israel painted on them or riding in training kit with the country's name printed on it, given current circumstances.
In response to the growing safety concerns, the team will issue a blank training kit to riders for the 2024 season which they can wear when training alone if required.
“The 2024 season will be our tenth season in the pro peloton and we will continue to proudly race as Israel-Premier Tech,” a statement from the team shared with Cycling Weekly read.
“The safety and security of our team members is of the utmost importance and as such, the team has implemented some measures for the 2024 season.
“This includes the use of a training kit, which our riders can opt to wear when outside of the race bubble and training alone, if they deem it necessary.”
In October, London's Metropolitan police said that there has been a 1,350% increase in hate crimes against Jewish people as the Middle East crisis erupted, The Guardian reported.
Ade Adelekan, the deputy assistant commissioner, described the rise as “significant” and said Islamophobic offences in London were up 140% over the beginning of October, the same period.
The concerns from Israel-Premier Tech's riders and staff are thought to centre on wearing a kit emblazoned with Israel's name at a time of tension.
Cycling Weekly understands that riders will be required to wear their standard issue team kit when training as a group.
According to Wielerflits, some riders recently said they had ridden past protests and pro-Palestine demonstrations during training rides which had left them feeling unsafe.
Meanwhile news of the new kit comes after Israel-Premier Tech team owner Sylvan Adams recently suggested on the Radio Cycling podcast that new safety measures would not be necessary.
When asked by Radio Cycling if he felt it was safe for riders to be wearing standard team issue kit while out training, Adams reacted angrily.
He said: “What are you suggesting? That people are going to attack us because we’re wearing the name Israel on our jersey? What are they going to do to us? Knock us off our bikes?”
"Are we to be intimidated by genocidal terrorists?” he added. “When ISIS was threatening people around the world did the world come to a stop? This is the same thing. What are we supposed to do? Cower?
"We're just going to go about our daily business.”
According to Wielerflits, riders were left feeling increasingly concerned during the final races of the season in Italy.
Israel-Premier Tech’s team bus was reportedly accompanied by heavily armed police at the start and finish of races and team vehicles were regularly searched for explosives.
Adams made a further series of statements on Radio Cycling regarding the Israel-Hamas war and pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
However, the 65-year-old said that he felt sport could continue to act as a reconciliatory force for good.
"I do think that sports bring people together,” he said.
“I feel this, I see it myself when we are on the road. It's a bridge to learning about different people around the world.
"Our own team has 17 different nationalities. I do see sports as a force for good."
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