Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams wins cycling world championship in Scotland


(JTA) — Israeli-Canadian billionaire and philanthropist Sylvan Adams, a key figure in the development of Israeli competitive cycling, won a world championship of his own in the sport’s 65-69 age group.

At the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland, Adams, who owns the Israel-Premier Tech Cycling Team, finished first in the Masters 65-69 age group on Friday. Then on Monday, Adams, who turns 65 in November, also finished first in his age bracket in the championship’s individual time trial.

Despite not picking up cycling until he was in his 40s, Adams had previously won numerous international competitions, including the 2017 World Championship in Manchester, England, run by the UCI — the main body that oversees world cycling events.

But he said his latest victory holds extra significance because it is his first world championship as an Israeli cyclist. He had previously competed under the Canadian flag.

I’m very happy my hard training paid off, and proud to have won this world title for Israel,” Adams said after winning the championship, according to a press release. “My eyes were moist as they played our national anthem, Hatikva, to which I emotionally sang along.”

The former real estate executive has been a key proponent and funder of cycling in Israel, where he has lived since 2015. Adams helped to establish the Sylvan Adams Cycling Network, the country’s first cycling institute, at Tel Aviv University in 2017, and he also donated money to support the creation of a commuter bike path in Tel Aviv also named for him.

In 2018, Adams established the first velodrome, or track cycling arena, in the Middle East, in Tel Aviv. He also donated $80 million to help bring the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia to Israel in 2018 — the first time the century-old competition was held outside of Europe.

Adams was the son of Marcel Adams (originally Abramovich), a Holocaust survivor from Romania who would go on to become a billionaire real estate titan in Canada. The elder Adams died in 2020 at 100 years old.

Aside from cycling, Adams and his family foundation have also supported the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; SpaceIL, Israel’s nonprofit space organization; and multiple medical centers in Israel. He additionally played a role in bringing pop star Madonna to the Eurovision song competition in Israel in 2019.

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