AFP JANUARY 18, 2014
Quick sprint, good climber, effective against the clock, the Eritrean Natnael Berhane, the first African to run for a French team, has become a hope for years to come after learning to ride on the way to school.
At 23, he should be in a few days the first rider of the black continent to win a stage race of the Pro-Tour if the winner of the Tour of Turkey, Mustafa Sayar, tested positive during the Tour of Algeria, is downgraded.
"It would be a miracle. I'll be happy, "says Berhane, shy and quiet even though it has become a star in his country where cycling is the king of sports, far ahead of the game.
On Tropical Amissa Bongo, he ranked 3rd in 7 small seconds (only bonuses) leader Luis Leon Sanchez, Berhane receives encouragement dumpers asking him to win the race, he won a stage and jersey of best young rider in 2011.
After a year at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland year he turned professional at Europcar led by Bernaudeau who had discovered in 2011 on the Tropical.
"He's like a father to me. He treats me like his son. He advised me well, "says Berhane which emphasizes well have lived away from his home with the support of the country team.
"It has digested its first year," says Bernaudeau. "He is very young, he has a big potential. It can go very far. It can hope to win a Tour stage in no time. "
Andy Schleck Fan
This year, "I am the Giro" answers Berhane, who "dreams of winning" not only a step, but the entire Great Loop. "This is a dream. We'll see, must I train. "
African champion hope and double-Africa champion against the clock by teams including with Frekalsi Debesay, winner of the 4th stage of the Tropical Thursday and turned pro at MTN, Berhane has set several objectives in Europe but wants above all to become champion of Eritrea. "I want to wear the national jersey especially if I'm in Europe."
Son of a jeweler-goldsmith, Berhane seriously began cycling in Asmara, the Eritrean capital located in altitude (2300 m) when he was 13 years old. "My father bought me a mountain bike to go to school which was about 5 km."
"I was the fastest. Nobody beat me in the race. I won all the time, "he says almost apologetically. "But I do not think it could be my job."
The big jump came in the year of Bachelor, when he decided to stop his studies. "To become a pro, I needed to train and devote myself fully (cycling). I stopped studying.Similarly, I went to Europe for this purpose. It is away from the family, the country, but if I want to do my job, I have to be in Europe. "
A continent where he will be able to confront those like Andy Schleck, he has long admired on television. "I met him once Plouhay. I greeted him but we did not talk too much, "admits Berhane, which is also expressed difficulty in English and very little French. But nothing precludes the Eritrean and Luxembourg have again the opportunity to discuss. And especially to fight.
Software Translation from French
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