A Deserved Victory for Natnael Berhane in Gabon

A historic day with the victory of Eritrean Natnael Berhane
A historic day with the victory of Eritrean Natnael Berhane at the Tour of Gabon 2014

BY ALULA ABRAHA

Natnael Berhane has won the most decisive battle to earn himself a deserved championship. Just as he has closed his 2013 account with a great triumph when crowned African Sportsperson of the Year last week, the ambitious Natnael Berhane proved his worth, yet by just opening his 2014 account with a historical win at the Amissa Bongo Tour of Gabon on the last day of the tour yesterday.

He proved, at the end of the day, that there is no point winning a battle if one ends up losing the war.

It’s, in fact, about winning the decisive battle that eventually wins you the war. That tells the story of Natnael and his journey through the week at the 9th Amissa Bongo Tour of Gabon. He has made history by becoming the first African to win it since its inception in 2006.



Here is Natnael’s day-to-day performance throughout the week working his way up the General Classification (GC) table against his Spanish rivals, Sanchez and Garcia.

GC Position   STAGE – 1 (Last Monday)==GC Position   STAGE – 2 (Tuesday)
Pos.RiderTimePos.RiderTime
1)Luis Sanchez03:32:241)Luis Sanchez06:26:44
2)Egoitz Garcia@0:012)Egoitz Garcia@0:05
3)Natnael Berhane@0:073)Natnael Berhane@0:08

GC Position STAGE – 3 (Wednesday)==GC Position STAGE – 4 (Thursday)
Pos.RiderTimePos.RiderTime
1)Luis Sanchez09:46:001)Luis Sanchez14:35:16
2)Egoitz Garcia@0:012)Egoitz Garcia@0:01
3)Natnael Berhane@0:083)Natnael Berhane@0:08

GC Position STAGE – 5 (Friday)==GC Position STAGE – 6 (Saturday)
Pos.RiderTimePos.RiderTime
1)Luis Sanchez17:57:461)Luis Sanchez20:19:34
2)Egoitz Garcia@0:012)Egoitz Garcia@0:01
3)Natnael Berhane@0:073)Natnael Berhane@0:04

GC Position STAGE – 7 (Sunday)
Pos.RiderTime
1)Natnael Berhane22:52:24
2)Luis Sanchez@0:01
3)Egoitz Garcia@0:02

This highlight in the above video clearly shows what this young man is really made of. He’s indeed an incredible man of steel. Not only did he actually do what he said he would do just before the race, but to actually win the first hot-point time bonus is hard enough, but again, to repeat the win in the same race and under immense pressure is something out of this world. No words can describe that. He is such a huge athlete with immense talent, grit, focus and hunger to win. He needed to win both hot-point sprint time bonuses in order to win and he did just that.



The fact that his nearest championship rivals had finished in 3rd positions in both instants was a huge relief. Teshome’s intervention in the first one and that of Saleh Mraouni of Morocco in the second hot-point time bonus sprint were both crucial. Those two hot-point sprints wins were really hot enough and had helped Natnael eventually win the Championship gold medal by a slender 1 – second.

He has shown that he can be both an individual who can rise up to the challenge as well as a professional team player that keeps a cool head and composure. Now, the world needs to be prepared for the next winner of Tour de France coming from the young nation of Eritrea in Africa.

He might have kept his fans on the edge but at the end of the day, he is an athlete who never let his fans down and had lived to the the expectations of his fans back home and abroad by becoming the first African to win the 2014 Tropicale Amissa Bongo Tour of Gabon after being dominated by European riders through out a decade of its history. He has finally managed to snatch it off their grasp right at the death.

It is the manner in which he had done the job that amazed the world. His first sprint finish at the 50 km mark, followed in 2nd place by the true son of Eritrea, Meron Teshome pushed Garcia to 3rd place and kicking Sanchez out of the points positions. That was a very important intervention by Meron denying Garcia an extra 1-second bonus which would have been a huge disaster for Natnael.

Meron Teshome is a sensational talent on the rise in his own right. Only this time last year, he was in Sawa but he still seem to be doing his national service by making such a mercurial job to help his fellow countryman peep the Spaniards at the post.

Only months after coming from his national service, Meron was remembered to have made a huge impact at the biggest domestic championship (the National Championship), winning the toughest Road-Race in Asmara in 2013 almost right at the finish line similar to that of Natnael’s recent exploit in Gabon earlier yesterday.

Meron Teshome was also part of the Eritrean team that had won the African TTT Continental Championship. He has also competed in the World Championship in Italy last September. Tesfom has also played a part in winning the mountain classifications between the bonus sprints, thereby controlling the pace.



After team Europcar riders worked hard to control any escapee groups and after Meron’s intervention in the first sprint helped cut the lead of the Spaniards into a single second, Natnael’s focus then was firmly fixed at the last important bonus sprint coming up at the 85km mark, which was also about 25km before the finish line. Miraculously, he won it against leaving Sanchez for dead. Sanchez was the favourite at that point as all that he needed to do to win the championship was to get at least in 2nd position at the following bonus sprint.

Natnael won it but thanks to Morocco’s Saleh Mraouni’s intervention this time, Sanchez desperately finished 3rd behind Mraouni. That negative 1 second disadvantage for Natnael before the last sprint had now turned into a one second advantage for Natnael Berhane.

At this stage, Natnael held on a slender championship lead of 1-second for the first time in 7 days with only 25km to go and all that he needed to do at that stage was to hold his nerves and finish wheel to wheel without risking his hard earned championship lead. As there were no more sprint bonus times left in the race any longer, the only thing Sanchez can do to regain his disappearing lead was to bolt away to finish the race at least by 1-seconds ahead of Natnael. The pressure was immense as Natnael and Sanchez were riding side by side until the Spaniard made a brave last ditch effort to escape with only 3km to the finish line. Natnael was like “NO WAY JOSE, YOU AIN’T GOING NOWHERE, MAN” and quickly chased him and managed to reel him back.



Natnael kept an eye on him, breathing down his neck all the way to the finish line just as the Spaniards had been doing all week long. As cool customer as he is, Natnael coasted clear in one piece with a nerve of steel to finally did Africa a great favour by winning the most prestigious tour of the continent only days after he was voted Africa’s sportsperson of the year ahead of the likes of superstars Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba. But again Meron Teshome and Mraouni of Morocco have played as important part in his win as did his Europcar teammates.

Most people thought that things can’t get better than 2013 after seeing Daniel and Natnael winning Euro tours in Spain and Turkey respectively as well as the young Merhawi Kudus, who had winning two tours in a space of two weeks in Spain and Italy last summer. But, nothing can compare with that of yesterday’s start of the year 2014, after Natnael won the Amissa Bongo tour only days after being crowned African sportsperson of the year.

The future is bright as Giro de Italia, Veulta a Espana and Tour de France is next to be conquered. A great win and a great champion. Natnael Berhane is the man to dominate the world stage sooner or later.

9 thoughts on “A Deserved Victory for Natnael Berhane in Gabon

  1. The Gabonese are bantus and we are "cushites" but we are all All Africans, even North "AFRICANS". Being disrespectful is un-Eritrean, hard work and humility is Eritrean.

  2. To Administer :
    Urgent that you delete the derogatory and racist comment written by "eri boy " and ban him from this website indefinitely. I speak for all decent people of Erirea to say that such hateful remarks does not represent the view or feeling of the people. Eritrea is a proud African nation with proud history. And what Natu accomplished is something that every African should take great pride.
    As for "eri boy's" comment it's way out of line and a sentiment no one with a right mind contemplate let alone share. If I was the Administrator I would go beyond banning him and dig deeper in revealing his identity.

  3. Stop posting as an eritrean, agamee wahid. Are you despratly trying to tarnish eritrean repitition acting as eritrean and spreading hate? We know you guys from Tigray, Ethiopia do everything to portray Eritrea in a negative way. Eritrea is a proud african nation, as sudan is, as ethiopia is and as egypt is. And all eritreans are proud AFRICANS!!!

  4. What was he thinking when he posted such a trash pretending as an Eritrean, and worse of all using a nick name of “Wedi-Ere”.
    It is a shame that he really believe that anybody would be swayed by his despicable & deceitful comment.
    What else can be expected from a Weyane who steals Eritreans identity online just as his Mafiosi weyane organisation usually also steal real Eritrean database & passing them as “Eritreans” in order to travel to UK & US in the immigrnt resettlement program that the US regime, according to the revelation in the wikileaks, had particularly allocated such opportunities for “Anti Regime Eritrean youth”. That’s why we usually see so many full-blooded weyanes on a full tim job of Eritrea bashing at any opportunities available…….
    Besides,…… Hope he knows that his Al-Moudi financed national football team (AKA the “hornless Walya”) have just been kicked out of the CHAN African championship being underway in South Africa. Even with one more match to play in their group C against Ghana, the “hornless Walyas” are the only team that had, not only lost both its first two group matches but also is the only national side that hasn’t scored any goals yet. Scribbling the CHAN African championship is played with only the home-league based players while their foreign based pros and amateurs are not allowed, everyone expected that Ethiopians national side(the hornless Walyas) to beat Libya in their first match. Libya had produced only one foreign based professional player, which was actually Gadaffi’s own son that had played for Italian seria-A side, has beaten “hornless Walyas” 2-0. Mind you, Libya’s domestic league as good as dead because no league match has been played in that country since 2011, following Obama’s Bombing of Libya to get Al-Qaeda affiliated regime in Libya. Yet, the dismembered and non-existing libyan national side has wacked the Al-Moudi financed Ethiopian domestic national side. After all, we’ve been told time & again that the Ethiopians domestic league is thriving but nothing to show for it apart from gloating whenever a weakened Eritrean national team under-perform because of players lack of committments. But there is one thing that the idiotic gloaters should know….that Ethiopian football can never develop if Eritrean football is undermined & vice-versa. Rivalry is one thing but to wish ill over your neighbour can only be termed as an incurable desease.
    The hornless Walyas qualified for the chan because of a fair regional quota of representation that allows at least 3 countries from the CECAFA region of ours…… Ethiopia’s progress to the CHAN was courtesy of a 3-0 forfeit awarded against Eritrea last year. But the Hornless Walyas had nothing to show for it. I saw their second match against Congo and Congo won 1-0 but could have easily won the game 6-0 after squandering half dozen of goal scoring chances…… But the Walyas, honestly, didn’t even hold on the ball in the Congo’s half let alone in the opposition’s last third. It was almost a one-way traffic but it ain’t stopped this idiot from coming here & Taking his frustration & anger of his team’s failure out here.
    Natnael is a champion and he’s Eritrean….. You can put that fact in your pipe and smoke it.
    Another fact for you to remember is that the last time Ethiopia won the African nations’s Cup 52 years ago in 1962, 9 out of the 11 first team players were great Eritreans & the Captain was also an Eritrean. But now the last time the much hyped-up “hornless Walyas” took part in the African Nations’ Cup last year in South Africa, they finished rock bottom in points and goal difference out of 16 countries. 16th out of 16 countries. The “hornless Walyas” even conceded 3 more goals against Burkina Faso even after Burkina Faso had their goal keeper sent off last year in their group match. Even playing with an extra man advantage, the “hornless Walyas” hardly created a chance on goal. They were busy picking the ball out of their own net and passing the ball in their own half only….
    4 times champions in continental cycling championship since 2010 is also another pain for you to worry about….. Until then, go and clean your own bum, you sick idiotic Weyane….
    Yeraswa eyarerebat, yesew tamaselalech!!!!……

  5. Thanks Alula for Truly Great article covering a historic event of 2014 cycling sport in Africa. It is a real Tesfanews story, and also thanks to TesfaNews Team for printing such a great article, It was pleasure reading it, it took me at the venue watching the race through my imagination..

    I also imagined the support of the Gabonese cycling sport fans to their African brothers. It must have contributed positively to their victories. It must have been a great opportunity for them watching and witnessing live while history being made at their presence for an African Lion emerge as a world champion. For many fans they will remember the date and seen for the rest of their life. From my own experience witnessing Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia Entering Atlanta Olympic Stadium wining the Marathon race in 1996 Summer Olympic Game, being the first African women to win the race. I always recall that memory vividly when ever I visit Atlanta. That amazing victory keep flashing back in my memory.

    Nat dedicated his victory to Eritrea and by extension to the rest of Africa. that voted him the Africa's sportsperson of the year for 2013! It was in deed a victory of Africans and in particular for the Eritrean people. Thanks Nat for the sweet victory gift to all of us.

    Nowadays Sport and politics are inseparable events. I wonder, if some Gabonese fans watching the historic copetition had any idea that their country was instrumental at UNSC to sponsor sanction against Eritrea?. I also wonder what was going on the mind of the President of Gabon when he handed the trophy and looking eye to eye to the African Champion who is an Eritrean?

    As more Eritrean register victories all over the world many will realize the quality of Eritrea as a country and is people. I hope the president of Gabon had a second thought how his country was arm twisted to accuse Eritrea as a 'terrorist state', but a country that produce the world class sport men and women..Nat and his team mates are the generation born in an Independent Eritrea. 'The Fre Selam' generation.

    God Bless Eritrea and its people!

  6. As the excitement had the better of, I had missed the very fact that Meron Amanuel's 3rd place finish in the final stage just by the size of his front wheel ahead of Sanchez is actually what has made the difference.
    Had Sanchez peeped him on the line, the 4 seconds bonus for a stage win would have meant that Natnael's truimph gone in tatters & would have meant Sanchez winning the championship by 3 seconds instead. I don't think that even if that had crossed Natnael's mind when he smiled and celebrated much early before anybody had crossed the finish line. The whole thing about the last day race & the mind game in the run up to the race itself was tense. The last stage, as much as it was like a story on a cliff-hanger, everything the riders do seems to be hinging on a knife-edge to affect the result either way & had gone right down to the wire. A very deserved win.
    I don't know which one of them has played a massive part in Nattu's truimph?….. Meron Teshome in the first bonus sprint, Moroccon Mraouni in the second bonus sprint or Meron Amanuel podium sprint at the last & most important finish line …..one way or another, there is no doubt that the Merons had played a massive role in it but without Natnael's individual talent & a performance out of this world, all the efforts by the Merons would have been in vain. For Natnael to win 4 sprints in the last two stages alone was something out of this world indeed. That was a maximum of 12 second bonuses in the last two days alone as compared with only 4 bonus points each for the two spaniards who were ahead of natnael by 7 points before the start of stage-6. He needed an aggregate of at least 8 seconds to overhaul the spaniards lead with only two more stages left to go. It looked like an uphill task to achieve something like that, specially after he had managed to gain an aggregate total of 1second only in the previous 5 stages between stage-1 to 5. But he worked his socks off in the last two stages to have a race of his life. He made the impossible quite possible indeed.
    What is even more amazing about his talent is the manner in which he had handled his bike under huge pressure & coupled with an excess speed of nearly 80km/hr when he crossed those sprint points…….
    I think generations will carry on talking about Natnael's performance & the role of Merons in it. I think this experience will also help develop our future team tactic when we next take part in bigger stages.

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