35. Sylvan Adams

Giro sponsor just wants Israelis to ride their bicycles

March 3, 2019 12:31
2 minute read.
 Canadian philanthropist, and passionate cyclist Sylvan Adams.

Canadian philanthropist, and passionate cyclist Sylvan Adams.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Canadian-born competitive road and track cyclist Sylvan Adams, 59, now lives in a luxury apartment overlooking the Tel Aviv beachfront, but until two years ago served for almost 25 years as president and CEO of Iberville Developments, one of Canada’s largest real-estate development companies, founded by his Romanian Holocaust survivor father Marcel Adams.

Sylvan has also followed his father into the field of philanthropy by establishing the Margaret and Sylvan Adams Family Foundation, which primarily supports educational and medical projects in Canada and Israel. The Adams Family Foundation provides doctoral scholarships through the Israel academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Adams, who made aliyah relatively recently from Montreal, where his son Josh now heads Iberville Development, established the Sylvan Adams Cycling Network in Tel Aviv and its satellites to encourage cycling not only for commuting, but also for recreation. He is also a co-owner of the Israel Cycling Academy.

Though essentially media-shy, Adams overcame his aversion to publicity when he succeeded in organizing the three-day start in May of the 2018 Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem. It was the first time that the Giro tour started outside of Europe. While the contestants were in Israel, Adams also unveiled the Sylvan Adams Velodrome in Tel Aviv, the first velodrome to be built in the Middle East.

It was virtually a given that Adams would eventually live in a Israel, a country that he visited many times, and where he met his British-born wife close to 35 years ago when both were volunteers on kibbutz. Though in his 40s when he took up cycling, he became a world time-trial champion and in November, 2017 won the World Masters Championship in Manchester.

Aware that the Giro is watched by close to a billion television viewers, Adams saw it as a perfect opportunity to show Israel’s beauty to the world and to encourage tourism. He wanted the world to see beyond the negative headlines to realize that Israel is not a war zone, but a normal country.

He was thrilled that two Israelis, Guy Sagiv and Guy Niv were the first-ever Israelis selected for the Giro team, because it meant that television viewers would see the word Israel in large letters on their riding shirts and would hear Israel mentioned more than a hundred times during television coverage. Sagiv subsequently became the first Israeli to complete the tour in Rome.

To keep up with the momentum, Adams turned his attention to the Tour de France in which he hopes the members of the Israel Cycling Academy will be able to compete in the 2019 season. He has already signed up a couple of top riders from France and Switzerland to help train the Israelis. There is no doubt that he will continue to enter ICA riders in international competitions – not only to enhance the popularity of cycling in Israel, but to put Israel on the world cycling map.

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