RECOGNISING AFRICAN TALENT ON THE WORLD STAGE

This is the first in a regular series of articles, showcasing African riders competing on the international stage.

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We take a look back to the start of the 2021 season to the end of March and, recognise some of the African riders in the top-ranking events as well as feature any notable achievements.

For the 2021 season, Africa has seventy African road cyclists, across twenty three UCI-registered teams – eleven Continental Teams, three Pro Tour Teams and eight World Tour Teams and, one Women’s World Tour Team. Five Teams are registered in Africa, which includes one World Tour Team and four Continental Teams.

To date, we have seen twenty of these riders from three countries, Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Africa racing in UCI events and achieving five top ten places, nine top twenty places and another six top fifty places in either stages or overall positions. Some great early season form and results.

The races started in Europe at the end of January with the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise in France. South African riders Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team-Emirates) and Morne van Niekerk (St Michel – Auber93) participated, with Gibbons finishing in 17th place.

The 3-day mid-February 53ème Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var took place also in France with South Africa’s Daryl Impey (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team-Emirates), Eritrea’s Yakob Debesay (Delko) and Biniam Ghirmay Hailu (Delko) taking the opportunity to stretch their climbing legs and Gibbons finishing in the top 50 at 42nd.

South Africa’s Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Stefan de Bod (Astana-Premier Tech) together with Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay (Team Bike Exchange) took part in the first UCI World Tour event, the week-long UAE Tour, with Meintjes and de Bod gaining a top 20 and top 30 place respectively.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium) only had South Africa’s Gibbons finishing in the latter part of the pack.

2021 Season – Africa has seventy African riders, across twenty two UCI-registered teams.

Meintjes in break Paris Nice Photo Credit: Photonews Belgium

Impey and van Rensburg close to the win stage 6 . Photo Credit: Volta Catalunya

Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier Photo Credit: BettiniPhoto

Moving into March with Le Samyn in Belgium were South Africa’s Nicholas Dlamini and Reinardt van Rensburg (Team Qhubeka ASSOS) both riding their first top class event of 2021. These two riders also took part in Grote prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré in France on 7th March.

Meintjes was active in the UWT Paris Nice from 7 to 14 March continuing his good early season form with 19th place on stage 4 and 17th on stage 7, helping him into a 23rd place overall.

In Italy on 21st March was the UCI 1.1 event Per Sempre “Alfredo” where Eritrea’s Natnael Tesfatsion (Androni Giocattoli–Sidermec) took a great top ten place finishing 9th with fellow countryman Mulubårhan and Ghebrehiwet in 17th and 39th and Ethiopia’s Negasi Haylu Abreha (all Team Qhubeka Continental) also taking to the start.

24th March racing moved back to Belgium for the next UWT race, Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne which gave Gibbons another good placing of 39th.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, the five-day Italian tour, finished on 27th March with Eritrean Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier gaining a top twenty with an 11th overall place. Tesfatsion took 5th on stage 3 and 8th on stage 5, with Mulubrhan also competing.

The UWT Volta Ciclista a Catalunya had a good African contingent with South African de Bod highest placed overall in 54th.  Impey was 12th on stage 2 and narrowly missed a stage win with a 2nd on stage 6.  Van Rensburg also rode to a top ten, 4th place on stage 6.  Eritrean Natnael Berhane (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) and Merhawi Kudus (Astana – Premier Tech) made up the numbers.

The mighty Eritrean’s were again on the road with Biniam Ghirmay Hailu riding in France at Cholet – Pays de la Loire 28th March.

31st March still in Belgium for the UWT Dwars door Vlaanderen – A travers la Flandre with only Gibbons taking the start but finishing with another top 30 in 24th place.

In the women’s events, only South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolan-Pasio was active at the highest levels, riding for her new team, SD Worx, with top 20 places, 11th Strade Bianche and 14th in Trofeo Alfrdo Binda both Women’s World Tour events in Italy in early March.

Two National Championships took place, Namibia and South Africa and the African Continental Championships in Egypt:

Drikus Coetzee and Vera Looser took both the elite men’s and women’s ITT and road race titles in Namibia and, Vera Looser won bronze in the elite women’s road race at African Road Championships.

In South Africa, the elite ITT titles went to Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team-Emirates) and Candice Lil with Marc Pritzen (Team Qhubeka) and Hayley Preen taking the elite road race titles. Preen also earned a silver medal in the road race and a gold in the team trial and Gibbons seized the gold medal in both the ITT and Road Race at African Road Championships, followed by ProTouch Continental’s Kent Main with silver in the ITT and a 4th place in the Road Race. Team South Africa also won the gold medal in the Team Time Trial and Mixed Team Time Trial events.

South Africa is currently in the UCI number one cycling nation position (1410.98 points) ahead of Algeria (740 points) and Eritrea (705 points). 

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WORLD TOUR TEAM RIDERS 🇿🇦 7 🇪🇹 1 🇪🇷 2

SD-WORX – WWT – 🇿🇦 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio
UAE- TEAM EMIRATES🇿🇦 Ryan Gibbons
ISRAEL START-UP NATION🇿🇦 Daryl Impey
TEAM BIKE EXCHANGE🇪🇹 Tsgabu Grmay
INTERMACHE-WANTY-GOBERT🇿🇦 Louis Meintjes
TEAM QHUBEKA ASSOS🇿🇦 Nic Dlamini              🇿🇦 Reinardt Janse van Rensburg
TREK-SEGAFREDO🇪🇷 Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier
ASTANA-PREMIER TECH🇿🇦 Stefan de Bod
COFIDIS🇪🇷 Natnael Berhane

PRO TOUR TEAM RIDERS 🇪🇷 3 🇪🇹 1 🇿🇦 1

DELKO🇪🇷 Biniam Girmay 🇪🇷 Yakob Debesay 🇪🇹 Kinfe Hailmichael

ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI SIDERMEC🇪🇷 Natnael Tesfazion

BURGOS BH🇿🇦 Willem Smit

CONTINENTAL TEAM RIDERS 🇿🇦13 🇷🇼 19 🇪🇷 4 🇺🇬 1 🇰🇪 1 🇲🇦 11 🇩🇿 1 🇨🇩 2 🇪🇹 3

PROTOUCH PRO CYCLING 🇿🇦 Kent Main 🇿🇦 Gustav Basson 🇿🇦 Rohan du Plooy 🇿🇦 Calvin Beneke 🇿🇦 Reynard Butler 🇿🇦 Mitch Eliot 🇿🇦 Callum Ormiston 🇿🇦 Brad Gouveris 🇿🇦 Andries Nigrini 🇿🇦 Tiano da Silva

SKOL ADRIEN CYCLING ACADEMY –                   🇷🇼 Dukuzumuremyi 🇷🇼 Eugene Gashiramanga       🇷🇼 Jean Eric Habimana 🇷🇼 Seth Hakizimana             🇷🇼 Swayibu Kagibwami 🇷🇼 Moise Mugisha             🇷🇼 Ramadhan Niringiyimana 🇷🇼 Jean Pierre Niyonshuti 🇷🇼 Jean Baptiste Nsabimana 🇷🇼 Shem Nsengiyumva 🇷🇼 Nshimyumuremyi

BENEDICTION IGNITE – 🇷🇼 Joseph Areruya          🇷🇼 Patrick Byukusenge 🇨🇩 Tshiyana Kamena           🇨🇩 Daniel Ischara Kinanira 🇷🇼 Eric Manizabayo        🇷🇼 Didier Munyaneza 🇷🇼 Yves Nkurunziza 🇷🇼 Jean Claude Nzafashwanayo🇷🇼 Janvier Rugamba           🇷🇼 Uwiduhaye

TEAM QHUBEKA🇿🇦 Marc Pritzen
🇪🇷 Henok Mulueberhan 🇷🇼 Byiza Renus Uhiriwe🇪🇷 Negasi Haylu Abreha 🇪🇹 Ghenrehiwet Yohannes

SIDI ALI-KINETIC – 🇲🇦 Mohamed Abbou 🇲🇦 Tarik Chaoufi 🇲🇦 Aziz Chaqri🇲🇦 Mohcine El Kouaji 🇲🇦Othman Harakat 🇲🇦 Mohamed Ibourk🇲🇦 Mejdoubi Lahcen EI 🇲🇦 Nasr Eddine Maatougui 🇲🇦 Mohamed Sadki 🇲🇦 Hassan Zahboune 

NIPPO-PROVENCE-PTS – 

🇪🇹Welay Berhe 🇪🇹Tesfu Redae

BIKE AID🇺🇬 Charles Kagimu 🇰🇪 Salim Kipkemboi🇪🇷 Mekseb Debesay

TERENGGANU CYCLING🇩🇿 Youcef Reguigui
🇪🇷 Metkel Eyob

KUWAIT PRO CYCLING – 🇿🇦 Jayde Julius

GENERAL STORE-FRATELLI – 🇲🇦 Abderrahim Zahiri

OLIVER’S REAL FOOD -🇿🇦 Brendon Davids