The Marco Polo Cycling Team issued a press release today stating their intention to start racing again next year, with a team comprised of refugees, mainly from Eritrea.
The Marco Polo Cycling Club was founded in December 2000 by Nathan Dahlberg, Anno Pedersen, Gudo Kramer and Remko Kramer. The collective mission of all Marco Polo Cycling projects is to support the development of cycling in ‘non-traditional cycling countries’.
Cyclists from more than 20 nationalities have been part of the team. The team won the overall victory in more than 10 UCI international stage races and hundreds of top classifications, stages and one-day events.
Their statement is as follows:
After a few years of inactivity, there will be a Marco Polo Cycling Team again in 2016. The team will be composed of riders that came to Europe as refugees. It will be an Elite Amateur team, racing a selected program of races in which the talented riders can develop and show their potential.
There are 9 candidate team members now, they were all active at the highest level in their home country. We will select from them, and maybe find a few more in the next weeks – months. We will introduce team members once they ‘officially’ entered the team. The majority of the riders will be from Eritrea originally, no doubt.
Only riders that have an official refugee status, allowing them to stay in western Europe legally, will be part of the team. We believe that there are a couple of guys that may make it towards the Pro ranks, just like so many riders that used our previous continental team as a stepping stone.
Daniel Abraham (former Marco Polo Continental Team), also a refugee from Eritrea himself, will be the mentor of the riders.
The team will also integrate refugees in the team staff and management, as the idea behind the team is to help refugees integrate and use their potential in our society. Hopefully they can get valuable experience that may help them to find their way – maybe towards a new job in the future.
As we are in the first stages of bringing the team together, we can still use any help to improve the program we can offer for these guys. So if you think you can contribute as a staff member, in team management, as a sponsor, invite us to a great race, supply equipment, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the moment to contribute to a warm welcome for some talented refugees in our cycling community!
More information will follow by half of October, when we will also start a crowdfunding campaign, in which everybody can make their support for this team concrete.