‘THE GORGE’ GIVES WAY TO ‘MELTDOWN MADNESS’ ON WEEK 6 OF THE TOUR D’AFRIQUE Tour d'Afrique, the annual 12 000-kilometer bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town, billed as the most grueling bicycle race on earth, has completed its sixth week of the 16 week odyssey and
“The scenery in Ethiopia has been absolutely beautiful.” reported Canadian racer, Andrew Cameron.
South African expedition rider, Patrick Thomas, said “I reckon it’s the most beautiful country in the world.”
While the cycling has been tough, the road surfaces have been good in Ethiopia with the cyclists covering distances of up to 160-kilometres a day. Over the past week they have cycled to an elevation of over 3000 metres above sea level. “Even the Swiss riders among us were saying that they had never been that high on a bike before!” said Cameron.
The riders enjoyed a rest day in Addis Ababa last week where they took the time to rest, visit Africa’s largest market and generally catch up on correspondence and bike maintenance before they started on the third section of the Tour d’Afrique known as ‘Meltdown Madness’.
On this 18 day, 1630-kilometre section the terrain changes from the rolling highlands of Ethiopia to flatter countryside interspersed with beautiful lakes. On crossing from Ethiopia into Kenya later this week the riders will experience the challenge of riding through the volcanic desert of Dida Gilgo on an unpaved lava rock road, will cycle around majestic Mount Kenya, cross the equator and undergo some of the most drastic elevation changes as they cycle towards the halfway point of the Tour – Nairobi.
Celebrated blind cyclist from Nairobi, Douglas Sidialo and his pilot, Joash Aswani are riding strong in 5th position overall and achieved a stage win last week on the 110km ride from Lake Koka to Lake Lagano.
Dutch racer, Adrie Frijters still holds the overall lead in the men’s race, with Eric Sechler of Sweden, 2 hours and 49 seconds behind him. Due to a wrist injury, Janet Alexander from New Zealand who won the first section, dropped into second position on ‘The Gorge’ section, with Eva Nijssen of Holland taking the lead in the women’s race by close on 48 hours.
After a rest day in Yabello on Tuesday this week, the riders will head off towards the border and cross into Northern Kenya on Thursday.
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