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The Saxo Bank team kitted out in blue
Team hopes to bring Jewish and Muslim children together
After working round the clock, Team Saxo Bank has finished building a cycling school in Acre, Israel, and the school opened on Friday. Muslim and Jewish children from the area gathered to learn from the pros.
“It's been a lot of fun and giving, working with the kids today. I enjoy seeing how easily they smile and have a good time in spite of their differences and in spite the lack of cycling experience as many never rode a bike before coming here today,” said Alberto Contador.
Bjarne Riis was pleased with both his project and his team. “It's been a long journey through the night but we came through and the school was ready when the kids arrived. I saw them really having a good time and they were drawn to the bike and the new challenge and I hope they'll continue using the place and continue leading an active life.
“It's been a huge goal for me and the team to get this project done and the whole team made it happen by hard and effective team work.”
The team did not construct the building from scratch, but renovated an existing building and built an off-road trail. Nick Nuyens was one of those who worked on the latter. "I was mainly concerned with transforming a wilderness into an off-road trail. They know almost nothing of cycling here, but the importance of this initiative is primarily the social aspect: people from different backgrounds becoming familiar with each other."
The 2011 Tour of Flanders winner was impressed by the action. “We are not here for show,” he told sportwereld.be. “We really had to work. Thursday we started at eight a.m. and by four p.m., everything had to be ready. Friday our efforts were rewarded and the children were introduced to cycling. They were very enthusiastic. It's nice to see that Jewish and Muslim children are taught together. That is still quite rare in Israel.”
The team will remain in Israel through December 11 to prepare for the upcoming season.