Three young, talented riders from the Saudi Cycling Federation National Team embarked on a transformational journey to the Southern Hemisphere last month, with the aim of developing their strengths to give themselves a real chance of striving for success at the upcoming 2024 Asian Road Championships in June.


Touching down on Australian soil, the chosen trio of Azzam Alabdulmunim (21), Hassan Ahmed Alibrahim (24) and Jehad Ali Al-Hasan (19) were welcomed in Brisbane airport by members of the Australian Cycling Academy and ARA Skip Capital team.


Co-founded and led by former GreenEDGE Cycling rider and experienced sport director Matt Wilson, the Australian Cycling Academy is an elite not-for-profit cycling academy based in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, bringing an athlete-centric approach to developing cycling talent. 


With the GreenEDGE Cycling connection, support from Team Jayco AlUla owner Gerry Ryan, AlUla – ‘The Road to The Games,’ a new and exciting development pathway for developing Saudi cyclist, came to life.


“I cannot describe the feeling because it is a very beautiful feeling for me to be here in Australia and I am happy that I was chosen to raise the national flag in international forums,” 21-year-old Azzam Alabdulmunim explained. 


“I have to say thank you to everyone who trusted me and brought me here to Australia. It is a really big thank you.”


“I met Ben Kersten (Co-founder & Managing Director ACA/ARA) at the airport, and we went home, and early in the morning at training time, I met with my new coach Ryan Thomas and Matt Wilson, and their treatment of us was absolutely excellent.


“Arriving in Australia, it was a beautiful moment, and I did not expect it to be this beautiful.”


Alabdulmunim has already displayed great potential in his young career having tasted success with a victory at the 2023 Saudi Games. The 21-year-old also has experience of racing in the professional ranks after competing at the AlUla Tour in 2024 and 2023 (previously named the Saudi Tour).

With clear motivation to take his career to the next level, Alabdulmunim has taken this unique opportunity of training in Australia with both hands. Taking everything in his stride, despite each day presenting a huge new learning curve. 


One month in, and the riders have been settling into life on the Sunshine Coast as they learn the ins and outs of what it takes to be a professional cyclist. With an extensive training, lifestyle and racing programme created and tailored around the riders, their road to the Asian Road Championships is now well underway. 


“Australia differs from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a lot in its climate and nature.’ Alabdulmunim explained. 


“I expect to be in my best strength since I started cycling, and I want to learn the professional life of cycling. The goal for me this year and by being in Australia training is to be able to achieve a medal in the 2024 Asian Road Championship. My dream is to one day win a world championship title.”


Having access to top level facilities, the athletes can train with former professionals, members of the ARA Skip Capital team and work with a highly skilled coach at the gym. With close guidance around their training, racing, recovery, and nutrition to expose these chosen Saudi Arabian riders to elite level training and development, the goal is to provide them with the knowledge and skills that they require to thrive in the world of elite cycling.


“Here in Australia, I go to training every day,” Alabdulmunim continued 


“I train on the bike, in the gym, I train with coach Ryan Thomas and Georgie Whitehouse (ex ARA athlete, turned coach) almost every day, they are the ones who help me with training in general. After training I have Matt and Ben that also help me if I need anything else. There is a lot of support here around me and I am already learning a lot.”

After a few weeks of settling in, it was time for the Saudis to race at the Australian National Road Series – the perfect place to begin. Lining-up at the challenging Tour de Brisbane, it was the first time the young trio had raced overseas – a huge step forward in their career.


Pinning on a number and heading to the start line for the 102km hilly one-day race, the Saudi riders were in the mix with Alabdulmunim fighting hard to finish the race in 84th position with his compatriot, Hassan Ahmed Alibrahim (24) taking 65th place in the main chasing group.


“We recently had our first race here in Australia, the Tour de Brisbane NRS round and it was tough. In the middle of the race, there were approximately 14 km to race up the mountain, it was difficult but excellent. It was a large peloton of over 100 riders, I am learning a lot about how to be a cyclist and how to race.”


We wish Alabdulmunim and co. the best of luck with training and racing in Australia and we will bring you more updates from the Saudis and their overseas journey as they continue training and racing in ‘Part 2’. 


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