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Dr. Flats a lot
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Eritreans took 7 of the top 10 (5 on the national team), swept the jerseys (overall, sprint, climber, U23) and laid to waste the entire field at the Tour of Rwanda. Obviously this wasn't a pro-tour field but this was a tough, tough race with a lot of euro and US pros in the field. Then consider their team took the team TT for the African championships by 3 minutes and won 8 gold medals.
You probably never even heard of their country. My guess is that you will soon.
 

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Dr. Flats a lot
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One of them had a "contract" with Cervelo that fell through when they merged with Garmin. I think a few of them had some interest from some Euro pro-conti teams, but the guys I talked to were looking for contracts. Also looking for shoes, powerbars, anything they could get. TT1 fielded an entire diabetic squad only 2 of which were on the pro-conti squad and they got killed. There was a motley crew of neo-pros from europe riding for different outfits and a number of the S.African guys were pro and Dan Craven who rides for Raphe. He's seriously good and is competing for GB in they next Olympics.
It would be really interesting to see them race against US pro's. I'd guess they would do some serious damage at somewhere like Tour of Utah. Watching them ride was insane, they were just relentless in their attacks particularly on the mountain stages.
Talking with the S.African DS he said the Eritreans came from nowhere, up to this year the S.African dominated everything, not now. I think a lot of teams are interested in them, but everyone already filled their rosters so it may be awhile before they show up outside of Africa.
 

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Get me to In&Out
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You will hear more about Eritria very soon. It borders Sudan which is about to emplode in civil war and genocide. I can't believe any US Pros would go to Rwanda and race. Overall health of everything is horrid. The chance of getting anything from Malaria to HIV is just too great.
 

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Dr. Flats a lot
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Well if you're looking for hookers, you probably shouldn't go to Africa. You also have no idea what you are talking about. Rwanda is one of the greatest success stories in recent history. It's amazingly clean, free of corruption, and stunningly beautiful. I guarantee you that every US and Euro pro that went there would love to go back again.
Bike racing is an international sport. One of the most powerful aspects of sport is the ability to break down cultural barriers. Opening the doors to African cycling has some incredible rewards, one of which is seeing the quality of some of the racers there. Plus seeing guys racing bikes so old and beat up that would have you laughed off the line at a Cat 5 race. And they friggin killed it.
 

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Eritrea is a former Italian colony and carries on some of that heritage. That includes a passion for cycling.

If you've been to Eritrea you'd understand why they climb like mountain goats. The capital city, Asmara, is at 7,300 feet elevation. Basically, you ride down away from the city then up back to the city.

Eritreans also tend to be long and lean. It's impressive seeing these guys training when they ride km after km of uphill, often on really basic equipment.
 

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zoikz said:
Well if you're looking for hookers, you probably shouldn't go to Africa. You also have no idea what you are talking about.
Sorry. I work for US Air Forces Africa. I spend a week a month on the continent, and time when I am home assesing the stability and needs of Africa. So I think I might know what I am talking about. I have been to Rwanda, as well as just about every other sub-saharan country on the continent. But please tell me what I don't know about. My work with the countries goes well beyond tourist resorts. There are lovely places in Djibouti as well, but most of the country is impoverished and destitute.
 

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Dr. Flats a lot
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Peter- Have you been to Eritea? It's funny because you could really see their race tactics were really Italian. I figured I'd see some Italian coaches or something. They reminded me of Liquigas in many ways. (Let the other guys duke it out, sit their wheels and then attack like an SOB)
They were particularly gracious and classy. Only thing I remember about them was a war with Ethiopia.
I'd really, really love to go back. Can't say anything about other places in Africa, but we were with a couple embassy folks and consensus was Rwanda was the best place to be (although Cape Town is supposed to be awesome).

Spooky- Sorry you're wrong about Rwanda. There have been a lot of Western intel failures in Africa, including our assessment of the Rwandan genocide while it happened. I would have hoped our understanding now was more nuanced but apparently there is still the tendency to lump in some circles to pile them into everything being "horrid." Your opinion also stands in stark contrast to that of the state department, Partners in Health (Harvard health initiative in Rwanda), fortune magazine and many others. The US has a bilateral investment treaty there, the only in sub-saharan country we have done this with. It has one of the most aggressive and successful anti-HIV programs anywhere. Certainly it is not Switzerland, there is poverty and hospitals are far from western standards. Kagame (the president) is far from a Saint, but he's one hell of a President and navigated his country from the pits of despair to that of the biggest rising star in africa.
 

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zoikz said:
Peter- Have you been to Eritea?
Yes, I travel there a few times a year for work. The Eritreans are pretty proud of their cyclists results from the African Championships. Your impressions of the Eritrean cyclists are similar to my impressions of Eritreans generally, they are tenacious but very gracious people.

The strongest of the Eritrean crew is Daniel Teklehaimanot. To go along with the TTT gold, he won the ITT and road race at the African Championships, becoming the first black African to win the road race. He had the stagiaire contract with Cervelo Test Team in the fall. I believe he won a stage, the King of the Mountains jersey and had a sixth place overall finish at the Tour de l'Avenir this year. Hopefully he'll get picked up on a permanent contract by a European team.

That's a great pic by the way. I've been trying to score one of those Eritrea national team kits ever since I saw one on a cyclist on the road to Karen (city outside of Asmara). I've been all over Asmara to the various sporting goods stores but none of them carried them. I even asked one of the guys in our purchasing department in Asmara to look into it but he didn't have any luck either. I figured maybe there was only one in the country, i.e. it was a national champions jersey, but there are apparently more. I'll have to follow up next time I'm over there and try and find who's making them.
 

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zoikz said:
You probably never even heard of their country. My guess is that you will soon.
Actually you might have heard of it last year at the 2009 NYC Marathon. The first American (Meb) to win the race in years is originally from Eritrea.
 

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Dr. Flats a lot
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The Eritreans had team bikes. So did the Moroccans-gorgeous Pinarellos (who are also excellent) and the Libyans-Biachi. Pretty crazy Treks, but those guys made them look cool. The Burundi team had the worst bikes of the lot. One of the guys was riding with a cracked steerer tube. Broken shifters. Had a friction thumb shifter mounted to the bars.
Uganda had a pretty rough selection as well. Rwanda had a mixed bag. They at least have the benefit of some really great US coaching and do get some material support.
I want to try and organize something to get US riders to donate parts and gear and get it out to some of thease national teams. Uganda and Burundi in particular could use a lot of help. Uganda didn't even have team kits. I have contact info for the Ugandan DS.
I met Daniel in our hotel after the race. He was buying whatever he could get his hands on from some US riders. He was looking for some eyewear, none of the riders would sell theirs. I gave him a pair of pretty used Nike I was going to give to my driver. He was so appreciative he gave me his team shirt (not the jersey though).
 

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I've noticed the instantaneous Eritrean rise also. I think it was the African Champs results. South Africa and Namibia were missing from the top of the podium.

It was only a matter of time. Ethiopia and Kenya to follow. Just like middle and long distance running.
 

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'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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zoikz said:
There was a motley crew of neo-pros from europe riding for different outfits and a number of the S.African guys were pro and Dan Craven who rides for Raphe. He's seriously good and is competing for GB in they next Olympics.
really, GB has announced their olympic team already? it's still 2010 and they know who's gonna ride in 2012? hadn't heard about that...
 
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