According to the non-profit group Cyclists for Cultural Exchange of the US, cyclists were made aware of the presence of the Iraq Junior National Cycling Team by an article by Max Whittaker in VeloNews (vol.33, no.11, pp:50-52).
"Equipment is mediocre at best. Many of the handlebars lack tape, and some don’t even have brake pads. But they’re riding their bikes, and that’s a feat itself in a country where drivers are regularly killed by IEDs (improvised explosive devices), gunfire and horrific traffic accidents," wrote Whittaker.
And now, parts of the US bike trade have donated kit to equip the Iraqi cyclists.
Here, in full, is a press release from Van Dessel Cycles:
Van Dessel CyclesConfirms Sponsorship for Iraq’s Junior National Cycling Team
DOVER, N.J. (September 22, 2005) In a move of stunning generosity in the sometimes mercurial industry of bicycle manufacturing, Van Dessel Cycles has stepped up to sponsor the war-ravaged Iraqi Junior National Cycling Team.
"They are riding the city streets of a war zone because they are so dedicated to this sport," said Mathew Werner of Cyclists for Cultural Exchange. "They were using ancient equipment – really old and decrepit bikes and clothing." Van Dessel Cycles–seeing the plight of the Iraqi riders–decided to help. "We read an article about the group Cyclists for Cultural Exchange, which stated they were looking for help with their support of the Iraq Junior National team," explained Van Dessel’s Edwin Bull. "Always eager to give back to the cycling community as a whole, we couldn’t help but get in touch and offer assistance."
Along with other industry leaders like Shimano, Ritchey, Giro, Fizik, Carnac and Smith, Van Dessel Cycles allowed the Iraqi team to turn in their rusty old steel frames and provided 10 of their Flahute racing frames. A mix of carbon fiber and aluminum, the Flahute provides its riders with the responsiveness that a racing frame demands along with the vibration dampening that only one’s own body can appreciate. Thanks to Van Dessel’s generous donations assistance and like offerings from the other sponsoring companies, the Iraqi Junior National Team will no longer have to worry about having equipment unbefitting their status as world-class athletes.