Another Eritrean Cyclist has Conquered Tour d’Algiers

Those who had dominated the continent’s cycling had to take the back seat giving way for the new rulers, the Eritrean riders, that have still dominated the continent’s cycling in all categories ever since 2010

Mekseb Debesay - The unchallenged victor at the Tour d'Algiers
Mekseb Debesay – The unchallenged victor at the Tour d’Algerie 2014

By Alula Abraha,

Mekseb Debesay is the name. The third of the famous Debesay brothers. The other two Debesays (Freqalsi and Kindishi H) were both at the Amissa Bongo tour of Gabon earlier this year.

One racing for his pro-team while the other one for the national side. But this one (Mekseb) was sitting back home probably itching at the time but now he is conquering Algiers today. The Tour d’Algiers is currently under his command leading the GC by nearly a minute before the last stage later today. 

Until yesterday, he was trailing the Moroccan Mouhcine Lahsaini by 2 seconds in the GC while the home favourite, Azedin Lagab of Algeria, was breathing down Mekseb’s neck only a second behind him in 3rd place.

Yesterday’s stage 4 was a perfect setting but a tense one that had disturbed the GC table. Mekseb rose up to the challenge and put the boots up that of Mauhcine to unseat him off the GC and roll him right down to 6th place. Himself and Lagab are now at a distance 256 seconds and 188 seconds lagging behind the flying Mekseb (to put it mildly 4 and 3 minutes behind, respectively).

All the Eritrean riders have all finished strong enough to be in the top 20.

PosPrevRiderTeamTime
1(2) Mekseb Debesay           Eritrea @10:19:42
2(6) Devid Tintori Italy @0:52
3(8) Ronald Yeung H-Kong @1:17
4(3) Azzedine Lagab Algeria @3:08
5(1) Mouhcine Lahsaini Morocco @4:16
6(13) Amanuel G/zgher            Eritrea @5:04
7(9) Abderrahmane Mansouri @5:52
8(14) Abderman Bech’me Algeria @6:10
9(39) Thomas Rabou Netherland @7:46
10(15) Eddine Mraouni Morocco @8:20
131 Tekeste Yonas              Eritrea @16:04
1462 Valens Ndayisenga Rwanda @16:12
1572 Bereket Yemane           Eritrea @19:24
1627 Aron Debretsion                    Eritrea @20:59
1750 Elias Afewerki               Eritrea @21:52
6287 Taha Alawi Bahrain @59:17

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A Little History

It wasn’t the first time that Mauhcine Lahasaini was dislodged from such a position in the past. His palmeras show how he was the continent’s rising star before the current crops of the great Eritrean riders came into the cycling scene. But ever since they came out of age and into the world scene, the Mauhcines, the Jallouli and the South African, who had dominated the continent’s cycling, had to take the back seat giving way for the new rulers that have still dominated the continent’s cycling in all categories to this very day, ever since 2010.

Unfair Revenge

But, in an unsportsman-like behaviour the Moroccan cycling federation committed a nasty revenge on Eritrea when it deliberately dis-invited Eritrea from the Tour de Moroc, so as to deny Eritrean riders potential UCI points that was crucial to help itself qualify at least three riders for the London Olympic. Unfortunately, we were caught napping. But the corrupt UCI and the Olympic committee probably colluded in the conspiracy to deny Eritrea’s deserved place in the Olympic. South Africa and Morrocco were allocated 3 riders each while only 1 for Eritrea,  the continent’s cycling powerhouse.


While the continent’s road race champion, Natnael Berhane was sitting at home, Eritrea was represented by African ITT champion, Daniel Teklehaymanot in the Olympic Road race but not in the ITT. It’s was unbelievable messy on the part of the UCI and the OC.  But still Daniel Teklehaymanot had became the first Eritrean Olympian in cycling and had a great race. He was managed by the great Yonas Zekarias, who himself had also been cheated out of being the first Eritrean Olympian at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. As a record holder of 3 times national champion of Eritrea, Yonas Zekarias was in his prime at the time but some analyst blame dirty politics having a bearing on the decision to deny Yonas as another revenge by the US on Eritrea after the notorious poverty lord, USAID was kicked out of Eritrea the previous year in 1995. US has already got a bad reputation of similar foul play that penetrated the world sport affecting athletes across the world including US Olympians.

Now Mauhcine, who was overthrown yesterday from his GC lead by Mekseb Debesay, had a terrible time at the London Olympic. He couldn’t even finish the 250km road race.  Whereas Daniel, despite experiencing a crash and with no teammates to help him, had finished strong and well ahead of the home favorites, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggans. What is even cruel is that Mauhcine had finished almost last in the Olympic ITT a few days later while the continent’s undisputed ITT champion, Daniel Teklehaymanot, was left out by the corrupt collusion between the UCI & Olympic committee.

When asked how the UCI allow such an unsportsmanship on the part of the Moroccan cycling federation in Asmara when Eritrea hosted the 2011 Continental Championship, UCI president, McQuid said that “there is no law against that”. It was a slap on our face but Mcquid, marred by a series of corruption, has since lost his UCI presidency.

Tour de France winner Wiggans, who finished behind Daniel in the Olympic Road Race, had went on to win the olympic ITT. The UCI and the Olympic committee still could not justify why the Africa’s undisputed time-trialist (ITT champion) was denied a chance to compete in the Olympic ITT while a nobody like the Lahsaini has made a mockery of himself and Africa just as the Eric the eel in the 2000 Sydney Olympic.

Past History of Tour de Algiers

Natnael Berhane and  Daniel Teklehaymanot had each won stages in their debute appearance in the 2011 Tour de Algiers while the GC slipped out of their grasp. But Natnael came back the following year, where Tesfom and himself each won stages as well as the GC championship.  Similarly, it’s Mekseb’s second attempt on the Tour de Algiers and seems like he’s got this one in the bag to continue Eritrea’s success in cycling this year.

Presently

The 2014 Tour d’Algiers had started with a strong 92 riders but are had seen almost a third of them dropping out leaving only 62 of contenders before the last stage Today. But 25 out of the 30 drop outs were victims in the stage-4 yesterday where it involved almost 300m climb over 140km stretch. Most were OTLs (out side the time limit) of the winning time.

Almost a third of the participants are from Europe while Algeria took maximum advantage by fielded a maximum 25 riders in their home tour.  But as quality preferred over quantity, 6 of their riders have dropped out while, out of the remaining 19, only 6 are in the top 20. Eritrea got only 6 riders in the tour, all of whom are in the top 20 & fighting for the GC, mountains, the U23 youth qualification & general team qualification today.

Only means of following the tour d’Algiers is via twitter update by Azzedine Lagab who is himself racing. It’s a sad thing that we are kept in the dark on any sporting event in Africa. It’s remembered that we are yet to see official video of the the 9th CAC, which is the continent’s biggest cycling competition that is held annually. It was held in Egypt and it’s shame that there is no record of Eritreans winning in all categories including our women in the TTT.

Stay Tuned …..

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