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Kenya is renowned for its distance running. The men and women of East Africa dominate the marathon, and it appears to be logical that cyclists from these countries will also reach the top of their sport. This will take time because cycling is not a pure physical endeavor, but requires historical and cultural knowledge of the sport, and technical and tactical nous.
BIKE AID is a platform for African athletes to acquire these skills and abilities. In Germany and Europe, there is an existing structure of races and programmes in all age classes that provides young cyclists with opportunities to hone their skills and talent. African cyclists miss out on all these opportunities, so BIKE AID exists to fill this gap.
BIKE AID and the Kenyan Riders have existed for several years, and both projects have identical aims to support African cycling and eventually reach a Grand Tour with a majority African team. We are now merging our resources and complementing our respective strengths.
“Kenyan Riders was founded in 2009 in Iten, the Mecca of distance running. We have a full-fledge infrastructure for identifying and training young cycling talent in Kenya and East Africa. We have made mistakes, learnt a lot, and we believe we have the conditions to ensure that young riders are given the necessary know-how in the long term,” said Nicholas Leong, founder and CEO of Kenyan Riders. "Our long-term goal is to bring a team with an African face to the Tour de France and the talent for it is definitely there."
For BIKE AID, this strategic partnership represents a further step in achieving the long-term goals. "Our aim has always been to nurture and promote African riders on their way to the top of cycling. This partnership is now providing us with a base and infrastructure on the ground in Africa, with which we are able to expand our promotion of young talent in a targeted and sustained manner and to take it to the next level, "said Eric Haus, Chairman of BIKE AID e.V.
In 2017, with Suleiman Kangangi, Geffroy Langat and Salim Kipkemboi, three riders from Kenya will be integrated into the BIKE AID Procycling Team. Kangangi and Langat were already part of the continental team "Kenyan Riders Downunder" in 2016, while Kipkemboi has just graduated from the junior ranks in 2017, and will be carefully
manoeuvred through the UCI race schedule.
"The integration of the three guys into our Proteam is important and makes me very happy, but in the long term the commitment of the now-existing development team is a decisive factor. The junior team will be riding under the name of "Safaricom-Kenyan Riders - powered by BIKE AID" and will be spending three months in the summer here in Germany, and participate in European races at the amateur level", says Eric Haus.
Both parties are certain that this merger will have a positive impact on the further development of African cycling, and are looking forward to an interesting and adventurous 2017.