Tour d‘Afrique underway

2012-01-15 17:14

Cairo - The 10th Tour d‘Afrique (TdA) is officially underway.

Forty-five Cyclists took off from the majestic Pyramids of Giza, close to here on Saturday morning with the soul aim of reaching Cape Town in four months’ time and the honour of calling themselves cross-continental cyclists.

Riders set out on the first stage of this, the longest timed stage race in the world, early on Saturday and completed 134km to reach their first desert camp.

The next seven days will see them covering more than 1000km as they gradually travel further south toward  the Sudan and ever closer  to their final destination, Cape Town.

Cycling out of Cairo proved once again to be a challenge as the cyclists disrupted traffic even more than it usually is in Cairo, but everything went smoothly and the group was soon met with any cyclist’s dream: smooth, flat pavement with a gentle tailwind to nudge them forward.

The TDA took place for the first time in 2003 when company founder, Henry Gold ignored all warnings and followed his dream of making this journey achievable for many people that previously could only dream of doing anything like this.

This year’s participants include riders from almost all the continents with representation from North America, Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa. The first Taiwanese cyclist to take part in the tour is sound proof that the TDA gospel is spreading around the world slowly and surely and a TDA with participants from every continent will be imminent.

South African representation is in the form Steve Smith, Alan Emerton, and Shona Bell and Miguel Teixeira - from Gauteng - all with the same aim of riding every fabulous inch on their bikes. This will include 12 000km across ten countries, namely Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and finally South Africa.

It’s going to be long, dusty and incredibly hard but at the moment all riders are fresh and looking forward to the challenge.

No-one knows what lies ahead for the next four months but one thing is for sure, Table Mountain is going to be a sight for sore eyes on 12 May.

At the end of their first day the riders camped out in the Sinai desert after a long day of convoy riding. As a few snores fill the Egypt air, the reality has now really set in that there isn’t any turning back any more. Although everyone is yet to settle into the daily tour routine the first day went smoothly and it should be in no time at all that we arrive at the ferry crossing to enter the Sudan.

For the next few days riders will be enjoying some of the best paved roads they’ll find in Africa. The road is smooth, flat and the wind seems to be working with them, more than against. Racing will start in all seriousness on Sunday with the first mandatory stage to take place over approximately 160km. This will be one of the longest days of the whole tour and the presence of a team of local Egyptian racers as well as fresh legs all round mean we might see some fast racing.

But before that there’s some time to admire the star-filled sky and the chilly desert air.