Giro d'Italia, Africa by bicycle: three Eritreans in a group with the dream of the pink jersey
By Marco Bonarrigo
https://www.corriere.it/sport/21_maggio ... b1d6.shtml
08 May 2021
Tesfazion, Gebreigzabhier and Berhane competing with Androni Toys, Trek Segafredo and Cofidis: "In our country, races are more popular than football"
Natnael Tesfazion is 21 years old and the dorsal 37 stapled, on the Androni Toys shirt. His first Giro d'Italia will start today at 15.09, on the Turin time trial ramp. Fifty minutes later it will be the turn of his compatriot Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Nibali's bodyguard, while Natnael Berhane of Cofidis will start among the last ones after Evenepoel and Ganna. Three boys from the same nation in the Horn of Africa, on the roads of the pink race.Becoming a cyclist, is the dream of every Eritrean child. If you don't succeed, you bet on running, another national sport. If you don't like it there either, you have to settle for football. I was playing football at 14, but when my father bought me a used mountain bike, I immediately gave up.
The Belgium of Africa
If Eritrea is to African cycling like Belgium to European cycling, https://www.corriere.it/sport/21_maggio ... 1f8f.shtml it is partly the fault of us Italians who, after invading the country at the end of the nineteenth century, also imported cycling races in the thirties which, in the intentions of the Duce they had to, like the military, show the physical superiority of the Italian athlete. The first hero of Eritrean cycling was the farmer Gebru Ghebremariam who, in 1939, humiliated the well-fed Italian professionals convinced they would make it to the Eritrean Cup. It was he who inspired Merhawi Kudus and Daniel Teklehaimanot https://www.corriere.it/foto-gallery/sp ... tml?ssoAt= the first black Africans to tread the roads of the Tour de France, in 2015.
At the dirt roads of the Campo Felice and Montalcino stages, Natnael and Amanuel look with serenity having pedaled on much more bumpy roads.In Asmara and Addis Abeba there are as many mechanics as there are grocery stores - explains Tesfazion - and you go by bike to work, to the market, to school. Saturday and Sunday the city is blocked to let the races pass and no one protests.
Tesfatsion says -When I was 18
Room matesthey sent me to race in China to gain experience. At 20 I won the Tropical Amissa Bongo in Gabon and made the second one in the Tour of Rwanda: I have never seen so much dust and so much public in my life, the route looked like a 1000 kilometer long stadium. All of Africa is crazy about bike racing.
Opponents on the road, the three Eritreans share the same apartment in Lucca.
explains GhebreigzabhierWe cook, shop and clean in turns
The veteran Berhane, 30, says he acquired the mentality of the rider thanks to a scholarship from the federal World Cycling Center in Aigle, Switzerland:training with other professionals from our country. At the end of the season we go home: Tuscany is beautiful but the roads are dangerous. In Asmara and Addis Ababa there is no traffic and we take advantage of the high ground without having to go to the mountains.
he explainsIt was rough but important
At the Giro d’Italia Tesfazion and Ghebreigzabhier will be at the service of the Ecuadorian Cepeda and Nibali, while Berhane will have more freedom from his Cofidis. Everyone's dream, is to be the first Eritrean to win a stage in a grand tour.and there they taught me the tricks of the trade, to pedaling in the rain, not to fear the snow. With us the human potential is so high and the passion so strong that if we had bikes and coaches we would be for cycling what Kenya is for athletics. https://www.corriere.it/notizie-ultima- ... 8362.shtml