Historic day for African cycling

Tsgabu Grmay (Ethiopia) and Meron Russom (Eritrea)
Tsgabu Grmay of Ethiopia (left) and Meron Russom of Eritrea (Photo:teammtnqhubeka.com )

This Sunday presents another opportunity for Team MTN-Qhubeka to display its project to the world when it lines up for another of cycling’s monuments, II Lombardia.

As the team hopes to make its Grand Tour debut in 2014, the race allows another opportunity to race in front of the Giro d’Italia organisation.

This World Tour race is one of the most prestigious on the calendar and a major target for the world’s best climbers.

The race is a fan favourite and again, Africa’s first professional continental team is proud to publicise the work Qhubeka is doing in Africa, raising funds to mobilise people on bicycles.

The day is also set to be a historic one for African cycling, as four African riders in the eight-man team for the race will be making their World Tour debuts.

Silver medalist from the recent world championships, Louis Meintjes, will be joined by Tsgabu Grmay (Ethiopia), Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Meron Russom (Eritrea) in starting a World Tour race for the first time.

“I’m happy to be able to race against all the big riders in the world and also to be working for our team in the WorldTour,” Russom said.

“It seems like the weather might be the same as the World Championships last week. I’ve taken a look at the profile and it’s going to be a hard race. I think we are ready as a team and someone like Sergio [Pardilla] could make a good result so we will all give our best for the team.”

The rest of the team will comprise Sergio Pardilla, Ignatas Konovalovas, Jay Thomson and Songezo Jim.

With the weather forecast not looking favourable for Sunday, at this stage it seems the peloton will have to navigate the 242- kilometre course in wet conditions similar to last year.

“Lombardia is a beautiful race that’s always hard. It’s a day for climbers. The race has great history and is known as The Race of the Falling Leaves,” said Pardilla.

“It is the last big race that gives closure towards the end of the season. It is the last of the five monuments and?undoubtedly, it is one of the most memorable races.”

The race starts in Bergamo and will travel along the scenic Lake Como before finishing in Lecco.

The Muro di Sormano climb is included again in the 2013 edition of the race and will no doubt play a role in the final outcome.

Ferekalsi Debesay Abrha (ERI)
Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (ETH)
Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Louis Meintjes (RSA)
Sergio Pardilla Bellon (ESP)
Meron Russom (ERI)
Jay Robert Thomson (RSA)

Source: Supersport.com