There were emotional scenes on Sunday at the finish line of the Afghan national cycling championship, as sisters Fariba (19) and Yulduz (22) Hashimi finished first and second, respectively.
The championship was held in exile in Switzerland, with such events outlawed by the Taliban.
The sisters had left just days before the Taliban entered Kabul.
Following her victory, Women’s WorldTour team Israel – Premier Tech Roland offered Fariba a contract for the upcoming season, which she happily accepted. The spot on the roster means Fariba has a chance to race the Tour de France Femmes, and with the announcement of a U23 Continental team in the works, Yulduz will join her next year.
IPT owner Sylvan Adams, who played a key role in the rescue operations that helped hundreds of Afghans to escape the Taliban in August 2021, commented saying: “We are making history here as these two brave women become the first from their country to reach this level of the 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.”
Also competing in the race were 49 women who were among 400 Afghan women, rescued from the Taliban thanks to Canadian businessman and philanthropist Adams, the owner of UCI World Tour team, Israel – Premier Tech, who worked in cooperation with IsraAID, an international non-governmental humanitarian aid organization based in Israel, and the Asian Cycling Confederation, to airlift the women to safety.