The fast and furious Eritrean Frekalsi Debesay has made today one of the great feats that make the legend of Tropical Amissa Bongo.
Debesay, by winning stage 4 of the 9th La Tropicale Ammissa Bongo, brought his team its first victory of the season.
He was racing against 83 riders in the 190km race from Lambarene to Mouila. It was designed to be the longest stage of the race and since the beginning there were numerous attempts for break but with no success.
When 4km left to finish, eight riders escape and form a breakaway group preparing for the sprint. The Eritrean Frekalsi Debesay remains part of the breakaway that consists of Minnaard, Guillemois, Verhelst, Mba, Ndayisenga, Lahsaini, and Seibeb.
At two kilometers to the finish, Frekalsi of team MTN-Qhubeka surprised everyone by unleashing his Eritrean advantage of an attack to outfox his rivals at the finish.
“We had a really good group in the breakaway and in the last hour it looked like we were going to stay away,” a smiling Debesay said after coming off the podium. “I started thinking about the finish and didn’t want to wait for the sprint. I attacked with 2 kilometers to go and stayed away. I’m really happy for myself and for the team.”
MTN-Qhubeka’s sports director Kevin Campbell expressed his praise for Debesay:
“We knew he could do it despite being with good riders in the break. He is a natural racer and has great instincts during a race. He was hungry for success here and this isn’t a surprise at all. We knew a break would stay away eventually and we’ve put a rider there for this very reason. I’m really happy for him,” Campbell concluded.
He even received praise from Luis Leon Sanchez yellow jersey of the race who did not hide his surprise at the enthusiasm generated by the victory of Frekalsi Debesay.
Frekalsi Debesay is now the new record holder of the La Tropicale. Only three other Africans had won a stage on the Gabonese event: the South African James Ball in 2009, Eritreans Daniel Teklehaimanot and Natnael Berhane in 2011 and Moroccan Tarik Chaoufi in 2012.
The Eritrean National Cycling team is also participating in the tournament with cyclists Meron Amanuel, Meron Teshome, Kindishih Debesay, Metkel Eyob, Amanuel G/Hier and this year’s African Cycling Champion Tesfom Okubamariam.
Renowned cyclists like Natnael Berhane and Daniel Teklehaimanot couldn’t make this time to ride for the national team as their respective clubs are also participating on this edition of La Tropicale.
It was recalled that Natnael Berhane (Europcar) finished 3rd on stage one of the race that covers a distance of 149km while Metkel Eyob and Kindishih Debesai from the Eritrean national team stood 14th and 18th respectively followed by Meron Teshome and Meron Amanuel who took the 23rd and 24th ranks. However, Metkel Eyob and Kindish Debesay ranked 3rd after stage 3 on Youth and Mountain Classifications respectively while Team Eritrea ranked 6th out of the 14 teams.
Meanwhile, the Eritrean National Cycling Federation today disclosed that the National Cycling Team Coach, Mussie Ashel, has won Africa’s Distinguished Coach Award. Mussie Asehel was the coach behind the National Team’s four successive African Continental Championship victories in tournaments that was held in Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Eritrea and Egypt.
In the general classification, first place is held still by Sanchez Luis Leon (Spa – Caja Rural), second place by Egoitz Garcia (Spa – Cofidis) and third place by Natnael Berhane (Eri – Europcar).
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