African Cycling Honored by the UCI and Tour de France

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DIJON, France (July 4, 2024) — Today and tomorrow, the Tour de France and the UCI are honouring African cycling, three days after Biniam Girmay’s historic victory. Next year, the first UCI Road World Championships will be held in Kigali, Rwanda.

This morning, eight young African riders supported by the UCI World Cycling Centre were introduced on the signature podium. They got to meet some of their idols before cycling through the final part of the stage and watching the riders’ arrival.

04/07/2024 – Tour de France 2024 – Etape 6 – Mâcon – Dijon (163,5 km) – Afrique Tour de France / UCI                                                                                

Tomorrow, one of them will open the road for the professionals ahead of the time trial stage on a Qhubeka bike—the same bikes that the Tour de France has donated to almost 2,000 African students since 2018 to enable them to get to school.

A Rwandan delegation from the 2025 UCI Road World Championships organising committee will also be present at the Tour de France as the country commemorates the 30th anniversary of the end of the genocide on Liberation Day.

A 23rd team on the roads of the Tour

To be the first black African stage winner is a message for the entire continent,” declared Biniam Girmay three days ago, just moments after crossing the finish line as the winner. He added on his social networks a little later: “Let me pave the way.

04/07/2024 – Tour de France 2024 – Etape 6 – Mâcon – Dijon (163,5 km) – Afrique Tour de France / UCI- Photo © A.S.O./Aurelian Vialatte

In his wake, eight up-and-coming African riders from the four corners of the continent*, supported by the International Cycling Union (UCI), were honoured by the Tour de France today between Mâcon and Dijon. They were accompanied by coach and former professional rider Tsgabu Grmay (Ethiopia) who contested the Grande Boucle three times between 2016 and 2018. The riders, who symbolically represent a 23rd African team that is deemed equal to the others, they were introduced to the Tour public at the start before getting the chance to meet their idols, in particular the two African riders from the Intermarché-Wanty team, Biniam Girmay (Eritrea), a former trainee with the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC), and Louis Meintjes (South Africa). Currently on a training camp in Brittany as part of a programme run by the UCI WCC to gain experience in European races, the eight young riders got on their bicycles ahead of the peloton to ride the final 31 kilometres of the stage before watching the riders’ arrival.

*South Africa (1), Egypt (1), Eritrea (1), Namibia (1), Rwanda (3), Tunisia (1)

Rwanda in the back of our minds

This day, rich in emotions, concluded with an unforgettable souvenir as the young riders proudly stood on the podium in Dijon, yellow and rainbow jerseys in hand, linking the Tour de France with the first UCI Road World Championships to be held on the African continent next year in Kigali, Rwanda. This operation promoting African youth is being held on 4 July, Liberation Day (a bank holiday in Rwanda), which marks 30 years since the end of the country’s horrific genocide. For the occasion, an official delegation, including Samson Ndayishimiye, President of the Rwandan Cycling Federation (FERWACY), is present at the Tour de France until tomorrow to prepare the event’s organisation and meet the organising teams.

Solidarity in Africa

Tomorrow, Eritrean Awet Aman Goniche will extend the adventure by completing the 25.3 kilometres of the time trial stage between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin before the professionals on a Qhubeka bike: the same bike that the Tour de France has donated to nearly 2,000 African students since 2018 to enable them to get to school. Anthony Fitzhenry, founder of Qhubeka, an association that has been a partner of the Tour since the launch of the “Riding into the Future” programme through which the event is committed to cycling mobility in all its forms, will also be on hand to portray this message of solidarity and encourage the young rider. There’s no doubt that Awet, like his seven friends from the previous day, will dream of emulating his compatriot Biniam Girmay and paving the way even more.

David Lappartient, President of the International Cycling Union:

“With just over a year to go before the first UCI Road World Championships in Africa, it is fantastic to see the continent’s talented young riders experiencing the atmosphere of the Tour de France and participating in the event. The UCI and its World Cycling Centre (WCC) have developed a solid strategy to prepare these young cyclists for next year’s UCI Road World Championships in Kigali, Rwanda. This unique opportunity to participate in stage 6 of the Tour will provide additional motivation for these up-and-coming talents. The UCI and the UCI WCC have supported African riders for many years and continue to closely follow the exploits of their former trainees, such as Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus, and, of course, Biniam Girmay, winner a few days ago of stage 3, and who has been training with us in Aigle, Switzerland, in 2019.”

Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France General Director:

“Three days ago in Turin, Biniam Girmay marked the history of a Tour de France that is increasingly more open to Africa, following in the footsteps of the African riders who paved the way before him: Robert Hunter, Daryl Impey, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus… We have been striving for years to strengthen the link between the cycling of champions and everyday cycling. This African sequence is entirely in step with this idea to inspire the young people who will be the champions of tomorrow while enabling thousands of others to emancipate themselves through cycling, through the solidarity actions we carry out in conjunction with the Qhubeka association”.

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