The triumph of Eritrea’s Natnael Berhane at the just concluded Algerian cycling tour will be one to be remembered for the 21-year old cyclist.
The 18-year old who rose to high level of cycling at just 18, is from the east african country of Eritrea. He took a different step in his career in 2011; a year of success and audacity.
Berhane Natnael was exceptional at the tour of Rwanda finishing second after some brilliant performances on the way. He later failed in the final battle for the yellow jersey at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo, a high level tournament that sees the participation of professional European teams, some that are regular participants at the Tour de France, the Giro or La Vuelta.
During the last lap in Libreville, which he won, he was praised by his opponent of the day, Frenchman Jérôme Pineau from Quick Step:
“There is no reason to be ashamed of losing in front of a cyclist like him; he ran well, he was the strongest of the peloton.”
The French athlete did not only congratulate him but also acknowledged to have learned a lot from the Eritrean Champions. The athlete from Nantes responded to those who are surprise of the Libreville result.
“I chose to come here and I stand by it. I am even happy that the Eritrean defeated me, it is a good sign.”
Berhane went ahead to participate in the first edition of the Algerian cycling tour. He was one of the brilliant cyclists there even though he ended up third in the final classification. His potential, his early know-how, his ambition, his determination at work helped him open the doors of the International Cycling Centre (UCI), an institution created by the International Cycling Federation to train and help young athletes participate in international races, particularly in Europe.
Motivated by this affection from the cycling world, the Eritrean achieved a remarkable second half of the season in fine form, notably winning the African Championship title both individual as well as team titles in Asmara, Eritrea.
At the Tour de l’Avenir, a European race reserved mainly for youths, Behrane finished 25th. An honourable position for his first outing out of the continent. In order to win the Algerian cycling tour ahead of strong opposition from teams like France, Greece, Latvia, Morocco and Algeria, he put together several resources. A strong climber, he equally knows how to ride and chase breakaway opponents when necessary. This is the case during the last stage in Oran when he crossed the finish line as first.
As an accessible and modest champion, he first of all dedicated his win to his trainer who has been with him for four years.
“He always believed in me,” Behrane said emotionally as he put on the yellow jersey in the Western-Algerian headquarter, “as I believed in myself“.
I told him last year, “I hope you will win the Algerian cycling tour, you are capable. If you win, you will be the most complete athlete of your generation.”
Behrane is already on top of the Eritrean and African cycling level and it is now left for him to conquer Europe and the rest of the world. Certainly in three or four years.
– – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – –
Natnael Berhane, Born on 5 January 1991
- 2nd at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in 2011 behind his compatriot Daniel Treklehaimanot
- 3rd at the Tour d’Algérie in 2011
- 2nd at the Tour du Rwanda 2011
- African Champion in 2011
- Champion Champion team in 2011
- 25th at the Tiour de l’Avenir 2011
- 1st at the Tour de Eritrea
– – – – – – – – –