Pedaling for Friendship
- The Tour of Eritrea is now over. It has been conducted almost all over the country stimulating the people’s avid passion. Here are some of the boys who rode along.
Clint Hendricks, the rider who enjoyed stirring a commotion within the peloton; he’d breakaway and do the same there too. He is one of the riders who earned tons of support from the public. I spoke to him at the end of the second stage. He rode the climbs from Keren to Asmara going back and forth from the leading group and the group of chasers. His sprint towards the finish line in Asmara was memorable. That day Clint thought he had made it 4th or 5th until, after Meron Teshome’s claims, the UCI commissioner changed the classification and put Clint in 3rd.
- Clint Trevino Hendricks TEAM SOUTH AFRICA: My name is Clint Hendricks and I come from South Africa. I am 25 years old. Surprisingly I am doing very well in the tour. I play for the general classification and, well, it’s going so far so well. Prior to my arrival I had to make all required preparation to compete with Eritrean riders. Today’s race was very challenging. From the start it was all uphill. I did my best to stay ahead of the game. Eritrean riders are excellent in climbing so it was very hard. My chance to advance was the sprint. And that went well, I think I came in 4th or 5th place.
- I think I will still aim for the general classification even in the coming stages. I will try to do my best and accumulate points for sprints. I expect to do well in the circuit race in Asmara. I also see myself doing well in the descent from Asmara to Massawa. It is a long descent so I will need to strongly secure my spot. You know, the race gets to be fast in descents. But I think these two races will be good for me.
- Generally I think the Tour of Eritrea is a great race. It is nice to be in Eritrea. And I would want to be back often.
Meron Teshome is Eritrea’s darling when it comes to cycling. He rides for Bike Aid of Germany. Meron Teshome, the sprinter. He has the hearts of many Eritrean fans but also that of UCI’s commissioner Isabelle Fernandes. He is one of her favorites, I think. In fact when in the second stage Meron’s luck got tarnished, first by being blocked and second by getting a flat tire in the finish line, he ran to the commissioner. He firstly threw his bike on the ground. There comes the commissioner to the rescue. The committed commissioner went to great length in a James Bond mission to Meron’s case. She went to the Media HQs and re-watched the footage our cameramen had to ‘sneak’ to take as they were not allowed to get close to the race. She published the results hours later at 4 pm. I spoke to Meron the day after in the third stage of Tour of Eritrea, in the route from Dekemhare to Mendefera. He came in first. Job well done. He got to keep the green shirt he and Ms Commissioner fought hard to keep.
- Meron Teshome BIKE AID: This tour is something in which my team mates and I accelerate in. The tour is not easy and so for one rider to score well it requires the whole team’s devotion. And this is what our team regards mostly; working together.
- Today’s third stage was relatively easier. It was mostly composed of plains and some effortless climbs. So we knew from the beginning that this one could have been our race. We definitely wanted to accumulate points for this one. And we did. The race was interesting as it had no peculiar climbs, so the last sprint to the finish line was overly thrilling. It was obvious that incredible attacks were to happen towards the end. I think this race was a good one.
- As for me, I learned from my mistake yesterday. While sprinting, certain blocks are inevitable as riders would want to naturally secure their place and attack while sprinting.
- Yesterday, while I was sprinting I got blocked by a South African rider. My bike was damaged, but I still pedaled ahead. To worsen that my tires got flat few meters from the finish line.
- I decided not to be part of such plans anymore. Meaning, it was my first time attempting such a strategy; to sprint with the group while still in the group, at their pace. I normally sprint on my own, but yesterday I tried to sprint out with the rest of the group, and I was attacked badly. I didn’t know how to counterattack.
- “The worst I have ever felt” said Zemenfes after the race when asked about his early celebration which cost him first place. Pierpaolo, instead, assured his certainty about Amore Vita inevitable wins in the coming challenges and the tour in general. I spoke to him at the end of the Fenkil Challenge.
- Pierpaolo Ficara AMORE VITA: It is amazing that I am the first winner of the Tour. I don’t know what the Tour has for us in the coming stages but I think that my team will definitely be able to accumulate points and perform well. The climb and sprints were important to me. The Tour is equally important to me. It is my first time in Africa, and only two years in my professional carrier.
Our cheerleader! He likes celebrating. In fact, in the first race at the Fenkil Challenge, he threw his hands few meters away from the finishing line. He was in a rush to celebrate. He thought he had made it at four meters away from the line when he threw his hands in the air in response to the cheers of the public. A hasty decision of few microseconds which cost Zemenfes and his team the trophy, as Pierpaolo Ficara stormed to the finish line a couple of seconds ahead pushing Zemenfes back to second place.
Oh, by the way, Zemenfes threw his hands 100 meters away from the finish line again. But this time he was alone. In fact it was funny to see him turn his head back just to watch out for another Ficara. He got 3 jerseys. He is really something.
- Zemenfes Selomun of TEAM ERITREA: Today’s 5th stage, the climb from Massawa to Asmara was really hard. Especially towards the end I had to constantly remind myself to ride ahead even if riders from team Rwanda rode stronger. Towards the end, it was just me and two riders of team Rwanda. I was so close to just stay back. But looking at how strong and determined they were I realized I wouldn’t be able to keep up if I took some rest. Therefore, I clenched my teeth till the end. And well, made it to first place!
- I wore the Polkadot jersey for most of the Tour. This makes me especially happy. It gives me a sense of achievement. My main aim in the tour was to accumulate points for climbs.