The fairy tale story of an Eritrean refugee and Israel Cycling Academy
Jan 08 2018 01:37 pm CET

The fairy tale story of an Eritrean refugee and Israel Cycling Academy
The fairy tale story of an Eritrean refugee and Israel Cycling Academy
Photo of Awet Gebremedhin by Sergio Gallegos

Israel Cycling Academy has signed its first East African rider, Awet Gebremedhin. The Eritrean refugee has signed a two-year contract.

The 25-year-old joins the team in its most ambitious season to date, with eyes on a grand tour debut at the Giro d'Italia. "I still cannot believe it," he said. "I waited for this opportunity almost all my life and there were moments of darkness and despair when I almost lost any hope that this miracle could actually happen. But now, everything that I had to go through, it all seems worth it."

Team founder and co-owner Ron Baron stated that this is more than the signing of a talented rider. "This is really all that ICA is about. Here is a rider who deserves an opportunity to fulfill the dreams that seemed almost lost. That's why for us it's an exciting moment. We feel privileged to give Awet this chance and confident that he will show the world of cycling his unique qualities."

The rider has had to endure family separation, hiding, years away from a bike and self-induced hunger. After getting a refugee status in Sweden and working hard to get his cycling gear, the climber signed with amateur team Marco Polo, where the Israeli team put its eyes on him.

Even though at the beginning they could only give him a spot in the development team, the departure of Turkish rider Ahmet Orken opened a spot for the Eritrean. "It was a dream come true. I could not believe it," commented Gebremedhin.

The rider signed a contract until 2020 and now faces the prospect of riding races like the Giro d'Italia.
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