The jury was chaired by Bernard Hinault, a five-time Tour de France winner and Chris Froome, a three-time Tour de France winner, as honorary member.
The 2016 African Continental Championship winner and UCI Africa Tour ranking leader for 2016, the Eritrean rider Tesfom Okubamariam has been selected Africa’s Best Cyclist of the Year 2016.
A jury chaired by Bernard Hinault, the five-time Tour de France winner, including sports directors, coaches, African and European journalists and riders such as Chris Froome, three times-Tour de France winner, had nominated 20 riders for the title.
Tesfom Okubamariam is, therefore, the fourth Eritrean cyclist to win the title since the trophy-award started in 2012 by Gabonese organizers of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo. The purpose was to promot African cycling and recognize the rider who contributed, through his or her results, the most to make African cycling known.
Previous winners of the Best African Cyclists title includes Natnael Berhane (2012), South African Louis Meintjes (2013), Mekseb Debesay (2014) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (2015).
Louis Meintjes of Team Lampre-Merida, who finished 8th at the 2016 Tour de France, was among the favourites this year. However, the jury preferred to reward Tesfom Okbamariam for his exceptional and true representation of African talent.
“I saw Tesfom Okubamariam during Amissa Bongo Tropical in January standing up to the professionals,” says jury president Bernard Hinault.
“He still had the leader’s shirt on the eve of the finish. He deserves this trophy because he also gave in his way a beautiful image of African cycling but with fewer resources than the African riders who run in the World Tour teams. It’s all to his credit.”
— La Tropicale (@tropicale2017) December 21, 2016
Without a team for 2017
At the age of 26, Tesfom Okubamariam, a training partner of Daniel Teklehaimanot in Eritrea, won the African Continental Championship this year and dominated the UCI Africa Tour rankings.
Good performances that do not prevent him from being without a team for 2017, the Sharjah Team of the United Arab Emirates where he would run this year having just decided to stop the adventure last week.
“I hope this award will allow me to find a new team for next season,” said the winner Tesfom Okbamariam.
— Team Eritrea (@cyclingEri) December 16, 2016
Nominees for the Best African Cyclist of 2016
- Essaid Abelouache (Morocco, Nasr Dubai)
- Joseph Areruya (Rwanda)
- Valens Ndayisenga (Rwanda – Dimension Data)
- Jean-Bosco Nsengimana (Rwanda – Team Stradalli-Bike Aid)
- Adil Barbari (Algeria, Nasr Dubai)
- Natnael Berhane (Eritrea – Dimension Data)
- Isiaka Cisse (Ivory Coast – SC Nice Jollywear)
- Eyob Metkel (Eritrea – Dimension Data)
- Grmay Tsgabu (Ethiopia – Lampre-Merida)
- Impey Daryl (South Africa – Orica BikeExchange)
- Janse Van Rensburg Reinardt (South Africa – Dimension Data)
- Jelloul Adil (Morocco – Skydive Dubaï)
- Clovis Kamzong (Cameroon)
- Lagab Azzedine (Algeria)
- Lahsaini Mouhssine (Morocco)
- Mansouri Abderrahmane (Algeria)
- Louis Meintjes (South Africa – Lampre Merida)
- Okubamariam Tesfom (Eritrea – Sharjah Team)
- Sorgho Mathias (Burkina Faso)
- Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea, Dimension Data)