Newly crowned Afghan national champion Fariba Hashimi joins Israel-Premier Tech-Roland
19-year-old signs for Women's WorldTour team after national championships in Aigle
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Hours after winning Afghanistan's national championship road race on Sunday, Fariba Hashimi signed a deal with Israel Premier Tech-Roland which will see her race in the Women's WorldTour next year.
The 19-year-old won the 57km road race ahead of her sister Yulduz, which was held in Aigle, Switzerland, because of the ongoing situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban took power last year. The regime has banned women from taking part in sports, as part of a series of other draconian conservative measures.
Therefore, the Afghan women's road race was held near the UCI's headquarters in Europe; all of the women who took part in the race now live outside of Afghanistan.
Israel-Premier Tech-Roland announced the signing of Hashimi on Monday, and that she signed shortly after winning the race. The team was known as Roland Cogeas Edelweiss in 2022.
Meanwhile, her sister will ride for the new Israel-Premier Tech Roland Development team.
“I did not expect this in my wildest dreams. I will race for all Afghan women!” Fariba said.
“I can’t lie, it’s so exciting but it’s pressure, too. Honestly, I didn’t think I would get this opportunity to ride for a WorldTour team and a chance to race in the Tour de France.
“I will take the challenge head-on and race for all the women in Afghanistan. My country today is dangerous for many of the women living there. Women are not free to live and thrive as they wish, but if they see me riding in the Tour de France with the Afghan colours they will see that everything is possible.”
Fariba and Yulduz Hashimi have been based in Italy since fleeing Afghanistan and have raced with Valcar-Travel & Service. Fariba rode the recent UCI Gravel World Championships.
“Both sisters raced for the Italian team Valcar and showed promise,” Ruben Contreras, the owner and manager of Israel-Premier Tech-Roland said. “We expect them to progress a lot with us.”
Earlier this year, Israel-Premier Tech owner Sylvan Adams welcomed a group of 70 Afghan refugees - many of them female cyclists and athletes - at Rome's Fiumicino Airport yesterday, after leading the group's rescue operations from Afghanistan.
On Sunday, he said: "We are making history here as these two brave women become the first from their country to reach this level of sport. It is part of our commitment to helping young cyclists from all over the world – from developing nations to war zones. From our Racing for Change initiative in Rwanda to Afghanistan, we are more than a cycling team.”
Adams has been working with an international group comprised of diplomats, UCI President David Lappartient and the Israel NGO IsraAid since September 2021, helping to extract and resettle Afghan refugees. In addition to the group of 70 recently welcomed in Italy, two further groups of 167 Afghans have already been rescued and resettled in France, Switzerland and Canada - the Afghan women's national cycling team among them.
While the UCI has been praised for its role in evacuating refugees, an investigation by CyclingTips (opens in new tab), published last year, suggested the evacuation flight list was manipulated and some under-threat were left behind in Afghanistan.
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Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.
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