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Eritrean Cycling: Good Times Never Been So Good.

Daniel Teklehaimanot with his wife and best men, Merhawi Kudus and Natnael Berhane, Nov 24, 2014

Eritrean Cycling: Good Times Never Been So Good.

By Bereket Kidane

What a summer it is turning out to be for Eritrean cycling.  It all started when Daniel Teklehaimanot won the King of the Mountains jersey in June at the Criterium Du Dauphine, an important race in the lead-up to the Tour de France, and continued his prowess at the Tour de France in July holding the polka dot leader’s jersey  in the mountains classification  from stages 6  to 10.

Before the Criterium Du Dauphine in June, Team Eritrea had scored major victories this past spring.  It had won the African Continental Cycling Championship Team Time Trial for the fifth year in a row beating the South Africans in their own turf.  Five straight championships should qualify any team as a dynasty.

These days, Eritrean cycling fans may feel like singing along to Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.  “Good times never seemed so good…Where it began, I can’t begin to know, but then I know it’s growing strong.  Was in the spring, spring became the summer, who’d believed you’d come along…Sweet Caroline, Good times never seemed so good…so good.”

Daniel Teklehaimanot subsequently surrendered the leader’s jersey in stage 10 to Chris Froome of Britain, but Team MTN and its Eritrean riders are still riding high and can be proud of what they have achieved on the Grand Tour this year and how many Eritrean and African fans they brought along with them.

 Suffice it to say, Eritrean cycling will never be the same again.  Nor will the Tour de France.  Terms like “polka dot jersey” and “peloton” entered into our lexicon for the first time.  We learned what the different leader’s jersey stood for: yellow, green, polka dot, and white.  The white jersey is given to the best young rider at the Tour de France.  The principals and trainers at MTN believe that Merhawi Kudus will wear that jersey in the not too distant future.  As for Le Tour itself, it had never seen that kind of boisterous, unabashed flag waving and patriotism before.

Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus and Natnael Berhane have shown Eritrean kids what’s possible on the world stage.  School boys in Eritrea now know that if given a little more training and worked a little harder, they can not only compete but dominate at the highest levels of cycling’s pinnacle.  Eritrean cycling will take a quantum leap after this year.  The Tour de France is one of the biggest advertising platforms in the world.  Daniel Teklehaimanot’s stage 6,7,8, 9 victory and the subsequent coverage it received by the international media has brought Eritrea positive advertising worth in the tens of millions.  One would expect the Government of Eritrea to make further investments in the cycling infrastructure after this.

The Tour de France is one of the most demanding endurance events in sports history.  It goes through some of the most grueling mountain passes in Europe and is held over 23 days covering some 2,200 miles.  Just completing the event itself is considered a huge accomplishment.  Already there have been major crashes and serious injuries.  Some 28 riders have had to withdraw since the event started earlier this month.  As the tour goes into its final week, we are thankful that Eritrean riders and their MTN teammates are staying safe on the peloton as it winds down to its most challenging terrains before finishing up at the Champ-Elysees in Paris.

 Team MTN has already achieved its goals for this tour and can be proud of what it has accomplished and how many new fans it brought along to the tour.  Though it came in as a wild card this year, it is safe to say  that it has earned a spot on the Grand Tour next year among the established elite teams.

As for Daniel, Merhawi and Natnael, no matter what they do from here on out, they will be talked about for a long time by Eritrean kids growing up today just as us adults still invoke the names of Salambini, Zeragabr, Tesfaldet and others.  Daniel, Merhawi, and Natnael have earned a spot in the pantheon of Eritrea’s cycling heroes. 
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Eritrean Cycling: Good Times Never Been So Good. Reviewed by Admin on 9:16 PM Rating: 5


  1. I love that song! Viva MTN!

  2. Brother Bereket,
    As always, thank you for your wonderful article.
    The DMN (Daniel, Merhawi & Natnael) and many other excellent riders have opened the gate of Cycling to many parts of the Africa, the world and now the Tour de France. They have done a lot in a short period of time. I have seen & talked to many Cyclist in Asmara, it is a miracle how fast they have achieved what we have seen so far. Will all the support they get from Eritrean Cycling federation, they still need a lot more help. We need safer, clear, better roads (& traffic laws); better bikes, cycling outfits, & training centers; better diet and education.
    We can not afford to lag behind other African countries ... Rwanda is already building a new modern Cycling training center (with a huge picture of Daniel Teklehaimanot inside the training center; Thank you & Respect Rwanda for recognizing our African Cycling Hero).

  3. Thanks B.Adal yr comment is valuable. I wish to see more riders.

  4. rhus gama daniel

  5. Another wonderful article, thank you dear brother. It won't be long to see more ERITREANS at the Tour de France. They already showed the world their talent and there is more to come for sure. With proper training, infrastructure, well nutrition, etc. Eritreans will be at the top in all kinds of championships and tours. I also want to say thank you for MTN Qhubeka for giving a chance to Eritrean talents like Daniel, Merhawi and Natnael to compete at the Tour de France. Once more thank you brother Bereket. God/Allah bless this sacred nation ERITREA.

  6. I didn't know Daniel was married. wonderful to see he has a beautiful bride.

  7. Damn! I was trying to introduce Dani to my sister. I can't do that now. Darn! Well, congratulations Dani.

  8. *
    ሓራም ብሓራም ሓርበንያ (patriot) Bereket Kidane ፣ ኮኾብ ጽሓፋይ ኢኻ።

    እዞም ጀጋኑ ብስክለተናውያን ስፖርተንያታት ነቲ ድሮ ኣመዝጊቦሞ ዘለዉ ኣፍሪቃዊ ህቡብ ታሪኻውንት፣ ንመሬት ኰዓናንን ኤርትራና ብፍላይ ከኣ መንእሰያታ፣ እናደረኸ ከም ዘሐንብባ ብዝምስክር፣ ትጽቢተ- መጻኢኣ ይኹን መጻኢ ደቃ፣ ትስፉው ጥራሕ ዘይኰነስ ጭቡጥን ዓንባብን ስለ ምዃኑ፣ ብሓቂ ብሓቂ ንውሑዳት በዓል- ተውህቦ (gifted) ጽሓፍት ጥራሕ ብዝከኣሎም ኣወቓቕጣ ድርሳን ኮሊዕካልና ኣለኻ

    “ኣገናዕ ኣገናዕ!” የብለና ንዘሎ ስርሒት ጅግንነት እዞም ኣጓብዝ፣ ክኢላ ጥበበንያ (artist) ደራሲ ምስ ዝሕዞ'ሞ ኸኣ፣ ብዝዳረጎ ክብረትን ኣድንቖትን ከም ዝዅላዕን ከም ዝምዕርግን፣ ብዘልመድካን ኣብነታዊ ኣወቓቕጣ ጽሑፋካ፣ ሎም'ውን ደጊምካ ኣረጋጊጽካለይ ኣለኻ።

    የቐንየለይ ብጻይና Bereket Kidane።

    እሙና ተኸታታሊ መስተንክር ዓንቀጻትካ!



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