Moroj Adil with the Jayco AlUla team. Photo Sprint Cycling

Saudi Talent Rides A Wave of Change

Team Jayco AlUla this month welcomed a young female Saudi Arabian talent, Moroj Adil to Europe for a unique and valuable training experience as part of the squad’s important partnership with its second naming rights sponsor AlUla. Moroj is a relative newcomer as a rider, but she is already making waves and becoming a role model to others. Moroj discovered a love for cycling thanks to her late father, which is a fact that seems to fuel her motivation. They would watch races together on television and she began to understand the how people race in Europe and around the world. With the spark ignited, Moroj actively took up the sport just two years ago after a cultural shift in her country. She became affiliated with the Saudi Arabia Cycling Federation a year ago and finally began to compete. Voxwomen caught up with this young rider after a morning ride in Girona, where she has been given the opportunity to experience first-hand the life of a professional rider as part of a team. We discussed Moroj’s pathway to this point and her aspirations as a rider who comes from a country where girls and women have only recently been given the right to participate in sports.

How did this opportunity with Team Jayco AlUla happen for you?

I was born and grew up in a small town, then moved to another city for university. I was a medical student. This year, I was supposed to do my internship, but I decided to concentrate on cycling because I want to be a real pro cyclist, so I moved to AlUla for the purpose of cycling. I supported the national team in the last Saudi Tour and that’s where I met the Jayco team. We had a couple of rides together for two days and that’s when I got to know them. I told them my story and my plans and what I am going to do this year and they supported me to come to Girona.

Are there many female cyclists in your country you can ride with?

There were only 4 or 5 where I lived before and then when I moved to AlUla, I was the only Saudi female in AlUla who cycled.

Is that changing now that the rights of women have changed in your country?

In Saudi Arabia, it is still so new. We became allowed to ride and do an outdoor sport only for the last two years maximum. When I came here I was very surprised and very glad to see here how people respect the cyclists. There is no judgement to see a woman or girl doing an outdoor sport. It is totally different.

Having seen that, would you now like to be based in Europe?

I would like to be based in Europe for a time, let’s say 1 or 2 years maximum. Because I really want to and have to share this experience. My country has started to change and they have become more open-minded and I think by next year, we are going to be like Europe. My country will become like Europe in sports. You know, we are still in the beginnings and it is a little bit challenging. It it will take time to change, but it is going to change and I think not take that much time.

Do you see yourself as a role model for other young women?

Yes. To be out of the comfort zone that we are used to in the Arabic and Saudi region, it is totally different. So to jump outside your comfort zone and do what you really want to do, be who you want to be, not what other people say they want you to be… this is what I want other girls to do.

Have you always been determined?

Yes, they all say that!

What did you dream of being before being a cyclist if that was never an option for you before?

I wanted to be a doctor, then I realised the medical life doesn’t suit me at all. So when I found myself really into cycling, that’s when I decided I wanted to be a pro cyclist. Being successful has a different meaning from person to person. For me, being a good athlete and a pro athlete as well, that is successful for me.

What are your main goals from this point onwards?

I am now on my journey to becoming a pro cyclist. For this year, I want to concentrate and focus and to have a really good training programme. By the end of the year, I really hope to join a pro team, to join the Jayco team as a rider. So this year, I came and I watched how people race and, by next year, I wish to start to race instead of just watching the race. By 2026, one of my main goals, I am aiming to race in Paris-Roubaix 2026, like two years after. I am putting a goal for the long term and for the short term.

Will the Jayco AlUla team support you?

I am sure yes. Now they are supporting me and, for sure, if I perform well, they will support me more for sure.

What have been the most difficult things for you during this month-long training experience?

Actually, it is a little bit difficult in the beginning being far away from home and family and then I got used to that. My family always supports me in all decisions and in whatever I want to do. So being here it was not an issue. From time to time they are going to try and visit me. For someone who used to train between sand and desert and flat roads, going fast, being here between all these green mountains and downhills and uphills, all these kind of green fields, this is amazing. Totally.

What are the best things about Europe other than the cycling?

People I find are very nice and kind, very welcoming. They respect all cultures and respect everyone, I really like that, they were very friendly. Food as well, for sure. The fruit and vegetables are so fresh here, so yes I like it! The different variety of cultures in Europe too, I found many people from many different places, from the whole world, it is really nice to share the cultures between people.

Is there anything else you would like to say? Any message you have for other young women?

Yes for sure, do what you want to do. Do the thing you are passionate about and not what people or society tell you to do. This is what I think is really important.

This intelligent and determined young Saudi woman clearly has a plan and it seems nothing will stop her from chasing her dream to become a professional cyclist. Where she rides, other young women will undoubtedly follow, so one must hope that Moroj Adil’s cycling journey takes her all the way to the top!

Photo: Sprint Cycling

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