Finalizing its preparation as of the 23rd of December, the Eritrean Cycling Team left Wedenesday (9th) to take part in Tour de Gabon due to be conducted from 14 – 20 this month. Members of the team coached by Mussie Asehel include cyclists of under 23 age like Meron Amanuel, Tesfom Ogbamariam, Merhawi Kudus, Meron Teshome, Mekseb Debesai and Tesfai Abraha, who is also member of the South African professional cycling club MTN Qhubeka.
Eritrean professional cyclists Meron Rusom and Jani Tewolde would represent MTN Qhubeka in the current Tour de Gabon, while Natnael Berhane would race for the French club Europecar. Firekalsi Debesai from MTN and Daniel Teklehaimanotfrom Australian team ORICA GreenEDGE would not take part in Tour de Gabon as they are heading for other tournaments, according to reports.
Mussie Asehel explained that the team is in good condition, and that it looks forward to ensuring a doorway to run for the under 23 world cycling tournament on the basis of demonstrating its potential in the current one.
The competition involves a total distance of 944 Km, which is 283 Km more than that of last year’s, and would be extended within the territories of two countries, thus encompassing a competition along the streets of the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé. Moreover, more than 90 cyclists representing 21 teams are expected to take part in the longest African cycling tournament in which no black competitor has ever won to-date.
It is to be recalled that Eritrean Meron Rusom stood second in Tour de Gabon following French Antonio Charito last year, while Daniel Teklehaimanot, Natnael Berhane and Moroccan Tarikh Chafi are record holders in the history of the tournament.
MTN-Qhubeka to Debut in Gabon
Last year’s runner-up Eritrean Meron Russom ready to battle WorldTour riders
By Cycling News,
Africa’s first Professional Continental team, MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung will make its 2013 debut at next week’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo. One of the team’s Eritreans, Meron Russom, took second overall in the race in Gabon in 2012 to Europcar’s Anthony Charteau by only 8 seconds.
This year, Russom and his teammates will face an even higher quality peloton, with two WorldTour teams, Lotto Belison and Lampre-Merida, and two other Pro Continental squads: Europcar and Cofidis plus the pro team Groupement Sportif Petrolier Algerie and nine African national teams.
“This year’s race is a little earlier than last year so my condition isn’t exactly the same but I am still happy with my preparation,” Russom said. “My aim is to win a stage or finish on the podium. I am also happy to help the team if we find one of my teammates is stronger than me.”
“The standard of racing is sure to be high,” said MTN-Qhubeka Sports Director, Kevin Campbell. “UCI points are at a premium this year and even if some of the top teams send their less well known riders, they will still be motivated to perform.
“Meron and Jani both raced really well last year and I expect them to do well again. Tsgabu is an unknown factor to the other teams so I know he will also perform really well. Jacques, Louis and Songezo are all able to offer excellent support and obtain some excellent results themselves.”
The team will make its European debut after the South African national championships. It was recently given invitations to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo.
Team MTN-Qhubeka for La Tropicale Amissa Bongo: Tsgabu Grmay , Jacques Janse Van Rensburg, Songezo Jim, Louis Meintjes, Meron Russom, Jani Tewelde.
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