April 26, 2006 – Tour d’Afrique, the annual 12,000-kilometer trans-continental bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town, billed as the most gruelling bicycle race on earth, is currently travelling through Namibia, en route to its final destination, South Africa. The Tour is scheduled to arrive in Cape Town on Saturday, May 13.
The current section, known as “˜The Elephant Highway’, covers a distance of 1,650 km’s from Victoria Falls, Zambia, through Botswana to Windhoek, Namibia. While the roads are paved and mostly flat, the unique challenge of this section for the cyclists is finding the mental and physical stamina to cover distances of up to 200 kms a day as well as dodging elephant and other wildlife that roam freely through Botswana.
In the men’s race, Matthew Caretti (USA) still maintains the lead position, with George Oertel (South Africa) and Urs Leuthi (Switzerland) in second and third positions.
Joan Louwrens (South Africa) leads the Ladies’ race, with Phillipa Le Roux (South Africa) and Christa Meier (Switzerland) in second and third positions.
Once through “˜The Elephant Highway’, the cyclists will embark on the final section, “˜The Diamond Coast’, 1,650 kilometres from Windhoek through to Cape Town.
The 2006 Tour, which has doubled in size since last year, is made up of 60 cyclists representing 14 countries — 24 of which are Canadian. An eclectic bunch, the Canadian riders include a professor, a teacher, a barman, a translator, a PR practitioner, students, businessmen and entrepreneurs as well as a chef, a nurse and a photographer.
Canadian Samuel Bail, the youngest rider on the Tour at 19, and currently a student in economics and international development at McGill, was the top ranked junior road racer in Ontario last year. He has raced for Ontario at national and international world cup events and is using the Tour d’Afrique as training for next season’s racing.
Bail was introduced to cycling at an early age by his grandmother, Ayala Manolson, who, at 74, has joined him to cycle the last 3000 km’s from Victoria Falls to Cape Town.
On Saturday, May 13, having cycled 12,000 kms in 96 days through 10 African countries, this extraordinary group will ride their final day of the Tour into Cape Town.
Thousands of local South African cyclists and supporters are expected to welcome the riders at the official Finish Line at the V&A Waterfront.
To follow the race and read the cyclists’ diary entries, visit