29.07.2004 Ivory Coast

Ghanaian cyclists impress in Ivory Coast

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Accra, July 29, GNA - The Ghana national cycling team made an impressive showing at the 18th edition of the La Route De L'est in the Ivory Coast snatching eight trophies in the 10-stage competition, which ended on Monday.

Apart from the individual fair play awards, the Ghana team was also adjudged the overall fair play team at the end of the crunch competition, which covered some principal towns including Yamoussoukro. Unfortunately, none of the Ghanaian cyclists was able to win any of the stages, the closest they went was in the second stage, when after breaking away from bunch of the peleton, Ayitey Akoto crashed on the finish line with a Togolese who had stepped up his gear in the tough last stretch to the finish line.

It was a sad moment for the Ghanaian team but Akoto made amends by winning two fair play trophies in the road races and a third position in the criterion; and he also anchored the team to win the overall fair play award.

His performance was so immaculate that the chief of Boundoukou donated out a personal undisclosed cash prize to the cyclist. In other landmark performances of the Ghanaians, Richard Mawuko set a cracking pace during the first stage of the competition in the Yamoussoukro- Yamoussoukro race, winning the Best Stranger Award. The best stranger award is given to a visiting competitor, who in spite of his unfamiliarity with the terrain, is able to break away from the peloton, in the early stages and is able to pull the rest along with him.

He also capped his excellent performance with a fair play trophy on the same stage.

One of the country's finest performers, Joseph Annan manage two fair play awards in the road races, which also included the prestigious Overall General Classification by Time award.

Host, Cote D'Voire, Ghana, Togo, and some professionals from Burkina Faso competed in the 855-Km race. Nigeria and Benin, which had indicated their intention to participate, however failed to turn up, citing financial reasons.

Richard Mawuko, Ayitey Akoto, Emmanuel Wayo, Prosper Agbo and skipper Joseph Annan constituted the Ghanaian contingent and were accompanied by four officials.

The team returned by road early Tuesday morning and is billed to present the trophies to the minister of Education Youth and Sports, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu in due course.

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