By Fred Vubem Toh
After Er Rafai Mohamed Amine, Saadoune Abdelati, Kamzong Abessolo and Mraouni Salaheddine, it was the turn of Nsengimana Jean Bosco to win a lap of the ongoing international tour of Cameroon. The Rwandan who runs for Bike Aid velo club of Germany covered the 122km distance between Douala and Kumba yesterday in two hours 59 minutes and 30 seconds. He was followed by Nzeke Geremie of Cameroon in the second position who crossed the finish line 53 seconds after the lap winner. Kovac Maros of Slovakia came third for the second time in the race.
Despite not appearing among the top trio of the day, Morocco conserved the yellow jersey of the leader of the race in the person of Er Rafai Mohamed Amine. In fact the top trio of the general classification is the exclusive reserve of Moroccans with Saadoune Abdelati in the runner up position and Mraouni Salahaddine. The first Cameroonian on the general classification table remains Mbah Herve Raoul who has again dropped one place down from the third to the fourth position and also narrowing the gap between him and the bearer of the yellow jersey from two minutes and fifteen seconds to two minutes and nine seconds to keep Cameroon’s hope intact of winning the competition.
Tekou Fokou Damien, the second Cameroonian on the general classification table dropped from the 10th to the 15th position but however maintains the four minutes 48 seconds margin that was separating him from the race leader.
Though morocco boasted of having three good climbers, there was no Moroccan in the escape during the ascent from Tiko to around Muea and only two of them were in the peloton, revealing they were not good climbers as earlier declared. However the danger may be coming from the Rwandans during the hilly part of the race as illustrated in the performances of Nsengimana though he is no longer running for Rwanda and that of Hakuzimana Camera who happens to occupy the fourth position on the general classification table.
The Douala -Kumba lap of the race proved to be the most popular so far as people thronged the roadside and cheered as the cyclists rode past. The excitement was higher in Kumba probably due to the fact that it is the first time the race was coming to Kumba since 2013. The points of attraction were the heavy motorbike riders who displayed their skill in riding to the amazement of the people. There were also other talented Cameroonians who displayed their skill either with the ball, a single wheel cycle or a simple motor bike popularly referred to as ‘benskin’
Today there is a day of rest in Limbe before the race engages the mountainous region of the West with the sixth lap to be run between Mbanga and Bafang. The stage is characterized by undulating mountains with the arrival on a hill in Bafang. Though Cameroonians are reputed to be good climbers, experts says they are just eighty per cent of their usual fitness probably due to the fact that cyclists of the SNH velo club, the flag bearer of Cameroonian cycling joined the training camp barely one week to the kick off of the competition due to a strike action as they clamored for better pay. Hopefully that they regain their top form in the last three stages of the competition so as to conserve the yellow jersey which they won last year through Kamzong Abessolo.
Meanwhile three other cyclists have dropped out of the race in addition to Yemeli Herman who threw in the towel during the fourth lap. They are Pernot Nathan of Martigues sports of France, Ouattara Bolodigui of Cote d’Ivoire as well as Moukagni Leris of Gabon who was eliminated for arriving after the delay. The Congolese are on a tourism trip with the race caravan since they are not taking part in the competition due to late arrival.
Source: All Africa