Syl­van Adams

The Cana­dian who brought the Giro d’italia’s grande partenza to Is­rael

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Philippe Trem­blay

In 2015, Guil­laume Boivin won the Cana­dian na­tional ti­tle and caught the eye of a small up­start team in Is­rael. The next year, he signed with the Is­rael Cy­cling Academy with the help of Cana­dian-is­raeli real-es­tate mogul Syl­van Adams, who had moved to Tel Aviv in De­cem­ber 2015. Be­hind the scenes, big­ger things were tak­ing place and in no small part thanks to the in­volve­ment of Adams. Syl­van Adams was born in Que­bec City and lived for most of his life in Mon­treal. His fa­ther Mar­cel, a Holo­caust sur­vivor, founded the fam­ily’s realestate com­pany, Iberville De­vel­op­ments Ltd., in 1958. Af­ter Syl­van re­tired, he moved to Is­rael. Since then, he’s found ful­fil­ment within the world of pro­fes­sional cy­cling. To­day, he’s the co-owner of the Is­rael Cy­cling Academy. He’s also helped to build the Mid­dle East’s first velo­drome in Tel Aviv and played a prom­i­nent role in bring­ing the Giro d’italia’s 2018 grande partenza to Jerusalem. His team re­ceived a wild card in­vi­ta­tion to the Ital­ian Grand Tour.

“This com­bines two of my loves,” Adams said. “I moved to Is­rael be­cause I love the place. My sec­ond love is cy­cling, so the idea of com­bin­ing the two and bring­ing the sport of cy­cling’s sec­ond-big­gest event to my adopted coun­try, of course, was a thing of tremen­dous sat­is­fac­tion.”

Adams be­gan rid­ing in his late 30s and has found con­sid­er­able suc­cess coached by Paulo Sal­danha, who also works with Michael Woods. Adams’s pal­marès in­cludes six Cana­dian masters ti­tles, two masters track world cham­pi­onships, four masters Pan Am gold medals, four ti­tles at the Mac­cabiah Games and 17 Que­bec provin­cial ti­tles on the road and track. His first foray into pro­fes­sional cy­cling came with fi­nan­cial sup­port to Steve Bauer’s Spi­dertech team, which folded in 2012. Adams has also qui­etly sup­ported lo­cal Mon­treal teams. When he was in the process of mov­ing to Is­rael, he met the man­agers of the Is­rael Cy­cling Academy and agreed to be­come a co-owner. He helped the team rise to uci pro con­ti­nen­tal sta­tus.

Adams ini­ti­ated con­ver­sa­tions with rcs, the or­ga­nizer of the Giro, to get the team in­vited to the Grand Tour. The idea of start­ing the race in Is­rael was also some­thing he men­tioned when he met with Giro race di­rec­tor Mauro Vegni two years ago. “It was a kind of out-of-the-box idea I pro­posed to him. It wasn’t par­tic­u­larly well-re­ceived. This is, af­ter all, the first time a Grand Tour has ven­tured out­side of Europe,” Adams said.

The pro­posal be­came re­al­ity. I n Septem­ber, rcs con­firmed that the 2018 Giro would start in Jerusalem on May 4. The full route was re­vealed in Novem­ber, in­clud­ing the fin­ish in Rome on May 27. “This was a theme we brought to them, and we sug­gested that it would be sym­bol­i­cally very fit­ting to trace a route from Jerusalem to Rome,” Adams said about the route pro­posal. “It sends a mes­sage of peace and fra­ter­nity.”

Adams even brought the mes­sage to the Vat­i­can. “I got an au­di­ence with the Pope. I brought with me a let­ter from Is­raeli prime min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu invit­ing His Holiness to bless the be­gin­ning of our race. The idea is he blesses the race at both ends,” Adams said, hop­ing Pope Fran­cis could con­nect with the race on its fi­nal day in Rome. “It takes the story off the sports page and onto the front page of the news­pa­per.”

The theme of peace and unity is mir­rored by the Is­rael Cy­cling Academy, which brings to­gether rid­ers from many coun­tries, in­clud­ing Swe­den, Mex­ico, Italy, the U.S. and Latvia to name some. Boivin and Ben­jamin Perry are from Canada. Adams hopes to see rid­ers from both his na­tions on the start line in Jerusalem, but added that the de­ci­sion will be up to team man­age­ment. Re­gard­less of whether a Cana­dian rider is at the grande partenza, Adams will be in the back­ground work­ing to make the event a suc­cess. “I hope we put on a Giro big start that will be re­mem­bered for years to come,” he said.

“I got an au­di­ence with the Pope.”

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