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A dream comes true: BIKE AID wins the UCI Africa Tour 2014 with Mekseb Debesay

Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014 in Pro Cycling

The winner of the Tour der Rwanda was already clear after the second stage of the tour.

Mekseb Debesay earned the second place on a hard mountain stage and won the polka dot jersey. With his stage win the previous day and the present day second place he scored 13 UCI points and expanded his lead. Before the race only one point separated him from the second-placed Mouhcine Lahsaini from Morocco. Such a thrilling final in the last race of the season concerning the overall win in a continental ranking rarely happens according to the African cycling media as well as many European cycling portals. The Moroccan sprinter Lahsaini, however gave up early on todays the mountain stage which made it impossible to challenge Mekseb Debesays win.

To us this is the greatest possible success for the first year of our project. Our goal is the support of African riders, in sports and beyond, and to give African athletes and the races, which are unique in terms of media and audience buzz, a face in Europe. With his success during the whole season, Mekseb Debesay has shown, that he truly deserves to be one of the most successful riders of this African racing season.

In Africa has had two tour wins and until now four stage wins in UCI races. Also, during difficult races in Europe, Asia and America, he has shown what he is made of. This way he was tenth in the Vuelta a Columbia, sixth in the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China during the royal stage in the mountains up to 4000 meters and in the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro he was thirteenth. With BIKE AID it was possible for him to have an international racing schedule and gain important experience. That way, next season, he can build upon this experience and maybe by the end of the season score a spot as Stagaire in a Pro Tour Team. He definitely has the potential for this and we will strongly support him.

Next to Mekseb and Meron from Ertirea we will try to support other cyclists from Africa next year. Raouf, a 20 year old from Togo who is doing an excellent job in youth development, will be one of them. Furthermore we are in dialogue with Cameroon, Ruanda, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Tanzania. It, however, takes some cautiousness. On the one side because it is quite a big effort and we hope to find more partners in the economy that support the project and on the other side we depend on diplomatic and politic decisions which we have little influence on.

At the beginning of the season we had never imaged such great success. The project was a daring issue for us. Our intention: If we remain dedicated in racing our goals need to match these of BIKE AID. Because BIKE AID continues to prioritize on recreational sports as well as social engagement with fundraising campaigns, not high performance sports. Performance sports only when we follow a goal that is beyond the horizon of performance sports at the same time.

In Africa and many other regions in the world cycling fascinates local people in a way that is unimaginable in Germany. And it is because of our present experiences there that we dare to make the following statement: The potential there is incredibly high! Why do we find so few cyclists from developing countries in Europe? Because there is no such thing as equal opportunity, because there are still so many prejudices and fears of contacts, because our politics make it difficult to support such projects. For these athletes

For these athletes a spot in our projects can set the course of their future life, beyond sports. For a German athlete it is only luxury, no necessity. For German cyclists a spot in our team means experiences and encounters that shape and stay, even after the active sport. We do cycling out of passion and enthusiasm for the world’s most beautiful sport.

Hardly anything is as suitable as a bicycle to discover countries and cultures using your own strength and to excite people on the streets. Until now BIKE AID was a lively cycling club from Saarland, now it is know all over the world. Even though we are still mainly present at the Litermont, in the Hochwald, Saargau or Bliesgau forests, we know that people like our jersey in Asia, Africa and America as well. We couldn’t be more proud of this!

UCI Africa Tour: The world cycling club UCI gives out licenses for three different categories of professional teams: continental, pro continental and pro tour. As a matter of priority the pro tour teams (budget approximately 10 million Euro) ride major races like Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta Espagna, Paris Roubaix, Flandern Tour etc. For this they get points in the ranking of the World Tour. The continental teams (budget approximately 100.000 ‘til 1 million Euro) and the pro continental teams (budget approximately 1 ‘til 5 million) participate in races of the continental circuits. Comparable to the UEFA Champions Leagues there are five continental rankings in Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Oceania. In these all UCI professional races of the season on each continent are presented, independent of the origin of the team.