THE Eritrean national cycling team that are participating at the 2015 African Continental Cycling Championship in South Africa have won their first Gold medal after coming on top in the 48km Team Time Trial (TTT) for 5th year in a row.
The Eritrean Elite Men’s team that consists of Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus, Natnael Berhane (all from team MTN-Qhubeka) and Mekseb Debesay (team Bike Aid) produced the strongest ride in the category to beat the more fancied South African team of four, who are also from team MTN-Qhubeka, to the title.
Team Eritrea stopped the clock at 01:03.39, that is 3 seconds ahead of the South African team. In third position was the Ethiopian team that crossed the line in a time just 1:12′ down on the Gold medal winners – the Eritreans.
MTN-Qhubeka’s Merhawi Kudus was elated with his team’s effort in the hot conditions though they just arrive for the race from cold weather in Europe. He menthioned that,
“We have had to travel from Europe where it has been really cold so it was going to be hard for us today but winning a continental championship title is great and I really can’t believe that we managed to win today.
“We are very happy to have won the gold medal once again. We have a lot of strong riders in Eritrea now and so there is always a bit of pressure when you represent your nation. When we win this medal, it is not just the 4 riders who win but all the riders of Eritrea so we are very happy today!” he concludes.
The South African team was slightly aggrieved that they were unable to win the gold medal and Louis Meintjes was quick to point out that they are professional riders so travel is no excuse for not winning.
“These guys also had a long way to travel and after last week we were quite tired but that is what we get paid to do!
“We are obviously disappointed with the result however we have no excuse for what happened although we put in our best effort and congratulations to the guys from Eritrea.
“Let’s hope that the rest of the week goes better and we can win some medals for South Africa,” a positive Meintjes said.
South African team, however, dominates the first day in Elite Women’s and Men’s junior race. The Eritrean Elite Women’s team that consists of Wahazit Kidane, Mosana Debesay, Tsehainesh Fitsum and Yohana Dawit finished the 48km TTT at a comfortable 01:23.33 placing them selves third following the host and a Namibian team.
Team Eritrea are expected to maintain their lead and dominance on the continent for the fifth time by winning the remaining Individual Time Trial (ITT) and Road Races. No other national team on the African continent so far dare to challenge the Eritreans in the past four successive years as they fiercely pursuit to maintain that title.
Elite Men’s and Elite Women ITT will be held on Wednesday Feb 11 while Elite Men Road Race on Feb 13 followed by Elite Women Road Race the next day.
RESULTS : TEAM TIME TRIAL (TTT)
1. Eritrea (Daniel Teklehaimanot/Natnael Berhane/Merhawi Kudus/Mekseb Debesay) 01:03.39
2. South Africa (Louis Meintjies/Jay Thomson/Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg/Nicholas Dlamini) 01:03.42
3. Ethiopia (Tsgabu Grmay/Getachew Atsbha/Temesgen Buru/Kbrom Gidey) 01:04.51
1. South Africa (Ashleigh Pasio/Lise Olivier/Heidi Dalton/Anli Kachelhoffer) 01:17.48
2. Namibia (Michelle Vorster/[Irene Steyn/Vera Adrian) 01:21.53
3. Eritrea (Wahazit Kidane/Mosana Debesay/Tsehainesh Fitsum/Yohana Dawit) 01:23.33