The fourth Tour of Eritrea cycling event known as the ‘Tour of Eritrea 2012’ has officially started its first stage competition in the afternoon hours of Wednesday  over the 89 kilometer Mendefera – Dekemhare road.
Tour of Eritrea 2012, classified as a 2:2 race by the world cycling governing body (UCI), will cover a total of 538km distance in 5 stages. The competition will run until June 3rd with participation of 15 teams including national teams from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Cameroon, Eritrea and Rwanda, as well as South African MTN-Qhubeka.
Egypt, Algeria and Rwandan teams had already arrived in advance to acquaint themselves with the terrain and atmosphere. However, the ever confident team from South Africa, MTN Qhubeka, has chosen to arrive same day the competition start, probably taking advantage of the newly established direct flight between SA and Eritrea.
For this year, team Eritrea will have two coaches under two groups. According to the chairman of the Eritrean Cycling Federation, such grouping will give a better chance and exposure for the considerable number of emerging homegrown talent riders to showcase, share and learn experiences.
Accordingly, Eritrea will be participating under two groups named as ‘Eritrean National team’ and ‘Red Sea Camels’ team.
Coach Muse As’hel was assigned to take care of the national team that consists of riders like Frekalsi Debesay, Meron Amanuel, Awet Gebremedhin, Selomon Habte, Bereket Yemane and Elias Afwerki.
Team Red Sea Camels, under coach Yonas Zekarias, will consists of Dawit Haile, Tesfaom Okbamariaym, Kindshih Debesay, Mekseb Debesay, Daniel Teklay and Hailemikael Akale.
What makes this year’s event interesting was the participation of team MTN Qhubeka, for the first time, with its most fearsome, battle hardened riders which are comprised of professional cyclists from three different African nations. Three out of these riders are Eritreans in the name of Meron Resom, Tesfay Abrha and Jani Tewolde. All these three riders were winners of the third Tour of Eritrea competition last year before they join this South African club.
Tour of Eritrea 2012, therefore, will be a competition between emerging home grown Eritrean riders verses professional Eritrean riders. It seems a perfect plan by MTN Qhubeka to defeat the increasingly dominant Eritrea by make use of its own riders, at their own country, in front of their thousands of cycling funs. It is going to be a pretty tough race between Eritrean and MTN Qhubeka.
However, Eritrean riders Daniel Teklehaymanot and Natnael Berhane, the two most dominant and African champions for 2010 and 2011, will not participate on this year’s Tour of Eritrea competition as they are preparing for their upcoming event in their respective teams, Green Edge and UCI.
Since its inception in 2009, the tour of Eritrea competition has started to attract the attention of the world cycling governing body as well as many countries in the region later to become a must-to-attend competition as the name Eritrea continued to glorify as ‘the most dominating cycling nation in Africa’.
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