February 5, 2006 — The first section of the Tour d’Afrique is complete and South African’s came out on top. George Oertel from Gauteng Province and Joan Louwrens of Cape Town were the champions. Official Section results will be posted on the Tour d’Afrique website after final tabulation and verification tomorrow. Here are the top three men and women in the Pharaoh’s Delight….
1. Joan Louwrens, RSA
2. Phillipa le Roux, RSA
3. Christa Meier, SUI
1. George Oertel, RSA
2. Matthew Caretti, USA
3. Pieter van Rooyen, RSA
The race has been highly competitive and the standings are extremely close in comparison to previous years of the tour. There is not clear overall favourite yet. “Yesterday we had our first time trial of TDA 2006. It was an 18 km sprint, 30 second starting intervals and 36 participants, our biggest time trial ever. The fastest of the men was Canada’s Sam Bail, at 20 min, 23 sec and for the women it was Joan Louwrens, at 23 min, 47 sec. The competition was high amongst all of these incredible athletes, but I’m amazed by the times of our winners.” said Tour Leader and Race Coordinator Randy Pielsticker in conversation with our office earlier today.
Joining the Tour in Khartoum is Holland’s Arnold van Dijk, who participated in last year’s Tour d’Afrique but was forced to leave after suffering a broken hip. He is joining the Tour today determined to ride the sections he missed last year. The first of those being “The Gorge”, which will present all new challenges for the riders. It starts with five riding days until they leave Sudan and enter Ethiopia; three days of blacktop and two on dirt. This is usually the hottest stretch of our tour. In the first two days in Ethiopia they will have to cross a section of the Simian Mountains. This will be the first real hill climbing stages of the tour. It will be interesting to see how the cyclists react to these new conditions.
Many of the riders have been pleasantly surprised by the generosity of the Sudanese people they have met. As leisure rider, and Montreal, Canada resident, Ayesha Harji puts it…”The tough weather and road conditions are tempered by the warmth and friendliness of the Sudanese people everywhere we go.”
The Tour takes approximately 120 days to cross the African continent, of which 96 are cycling days. The cyclists cover an average distance of 125 km (75 miles) each day with a rest day every 5-6 days.
To follow the race or for more information, visit <http://www.tourdafrique.com/>www.tourdafrique.com