Cyclists in action (Credit: David Isabirye) Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) announced that they have joined forces to develop cycling on the African continent in the lead up to the 2025 UCI Road World Championships to be held in Kigali, Rwanda.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the two bodies aims to ensure that African countries are well represented with strong podium chances at the UCI’s flagship event being held for the first time on the African continent in 2025.

It is envisaged that the momentum will be carried on to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games and beyond.

The MOU was signed at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, on Wednesday 25 May, as part of Africa Day celebrations.

This followed fruitful discussions between UCI President David Lappartient, UCI Director General Amina Lanaya, the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) ad interim Director Jacques Landry, ANOCA President Mustapha Berraf and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chief of Development of Sport in Africa Yassine Yousfi.

The parties agreed on a UCI Cycling Development Strategy supporting African athletes so they can be competitive by 2025, notably in the Junior and Under 23 categories.

Cyclists during stage two of the Tour Du Rwanda Credit: New Times

The strategy begins this year with the identification of athletes from African countries to be chosen for a training camp at the UCI WCC Satellite in Paarl, South Africa. Selected athletes will then be able to train at the UCI WCC in Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe where they will gain appropriate race experience over the next three years, in the lead-up to the 2025 UCI Road World Championships in the Rwandan capital.

It is envisaged that some 30 athletes (male and female) will be targeted through the UCI WCC’s established physiological testing, results at international races and recommendations from UCI certified coaches and the Director of the UCI WCC Satellite in Paarl, Jean-Pierre Van Zyl.

The UCI WCC – the UCI’s education and training arm – has already launched the careers of some incredible African athletes, for example Eritreans Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus, Natnael Berhane and Biniam Girmay, and of course Chris Froome, who spent his first months in Europe at the UCI WCC after arriving from Kenya back in 2007.

Several of the UCI WCC’s female trainee athletes from Africa have also gone on to sign contracts with professional teams, and this year the WCC Team, a UCI Women’s Continental Team, has two African members: Ethiopian Selam Amha Gerefiel and South African Maude Le Roux.

After signing the MOU, UCI President David Lappartient declared: “When I stated in my Agenda 2022 that I wanted to take the UCI Road World Championships to Africa for the first time, it was part of a wider vision to strengthen our development work on the continent. I am incredibly excited to work alongside the ANOCA to ensure that African athletes will be forces to be reckoned with in Kigali in three years’ time.”

“The continent is teaming with talent, and we will make sure that the whole world will be witness to that at the 2025 UCI Road World Championships and beyond.”

Attribute: ANOCA

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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