This year's 7thedition of 'Boucle du Coton' wheeled off in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso registering 64 cyclists from 10 teams in the likes of host nation Burkina Faso, France, Togo, Ghana, Mali, Cote D'Ivoire and Gabon. Host Nation Burkina Faso presented four teams with 8 cyclists in each Team. Ghana was represented by six cyclists namely; Emmanuel Taylor of River Park Club (team captain), Emmanuel Obour - City Migro, Kenneth Ameyaw - River Park (Sunyani), Joseph Kudakpor - Die Hard. The rest are John Zormelo - Young Stars and Benjamin Logo Adom of River Park Cycling Club (Sunyani).
The team was accompanied by officials -Williams Kyei, Secretary General of the Ghana Cycling Federation and the Leader of Delegation, Shaaban Mohammed - Technical Director, Seidu Sulley - Team Mechanic and Communication Director - Dennis Moore.
Full details of each stage activity are presented to you as it happened;
STAGE 1 & 2
The first stage which comprised two events sparked off from the city of Cotton – Zinare to Ouagadougou and covered a total toiling distance of 162 KM with an average speed of 40km/hr. Yemeogo Amidu of Burkina Faso came first in a time of 2:05:57.
The second department of the race was a furious criterion inside Ouagadougou over 76 KM in which the pacy Burkinabees cruised calmly to victory with a good time of 2hrs 05 mins 57 sec. Debutants Benjamin Adom and Kenneth Ameyaw of River Park Club received their first baptism in an international race of their lives when they were dropped very early in the Peloton by the electric pace of their senior riders. Indeed the unfriendly rugged weather played a bad role in this particular stage as many cyclists consistently battled for water and squeezed out their last breadth of sweat.
Stage Star: Joseph Kudakpor & Emmanuel Obuor
The third stage rolled off from Sabou to Boromo with a total flat road distance of 86KM and four Ghanaians Zormelo, Kudakpo, Obuor & Taylor registered their early desire to inspire by fitting themselves into the second bunch closing in on the finish. This stage again recorded the Burkina Team as the strongest side as the likes of Ilboubo Harvna, Sokondo Abdou and Yemeogo Hamidou were simply unstoppable.
Stage Star: Emmanuel Obuor
STAGE 4 & 5
Burkina Faso's Team A continued to show dominance in the fourth race which swept off from Boromo to the City of Dano over a distance of 93KM with diminutive but deadly spirit kid Nikiema Aziz securing the Stage. Ghana managed to walk-over Togo in the Team classifications.
Perhaps the toughest test for Ghana came through in the 5th stage with Team Ghana confessing for themselves as they had to clear that tarred hurdle from Diebougou to Hounde over 122KM. It was once again the Burkinabees who dictated affairs – Tarbagdo Ettiene in 3:07:17, Sokondo Abdou and Sawadogo Wahab in the same time.
For the new injections – Kenneth Ameyaw and Benjamin Logo Adom, it was an uncommon privilege to be admitted into the National Team and for Senior riders – John Zormelo, john Kudakpor, Emmanuel Obuor and 'El Capito' Emmanuel Taylor, they would have preferred to 'Die' and be reincarnated later.
The series of persistent attacks and ultra aggression in break – aways from the French and the Burkinabees were a real novel skill to the Ghanaians as they studied with awe how these advanced cyclists drew the stings out of their legs.
It was a good test for Ghana and an indication that there is 'life after death' in cycling especially as these boys are battling for call-up into the final justify your inclusion towards the upcoming All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique this year.
Stage Stars: Zormelo & Emmanuel Taylor
French duo Clain Mederic and Tourtelot Alexi crossed the finishing line with an equal time of 1:48:38. It was a heated 75KM/Hr assignment from Boundoukuy to Dedougou.
Sokondo Abdou, Minougou Oumarou and Aziz Nikiema from Burkina Faso followed suit with the same time as Ivorian Baby Face sprint assassin - Bashiru Konte came through to the 7th position.
Ghana However secured her first Tour jersey in the Fair play category with a vintage power-pace ride by veteran pedalist John Zormelo of Young Stars. It was a superb solo sweep from the experienced cyclist who forced himself into the second bunch but was immediately sandwiched by the stubborn perseverance of the Burkinbes and the French. Within a twinkle of a second, he was staring at his colleagues powering past him – and it was already a 10 minute deficit of time interval between the sober Ghanaian and the break away. The distance seemed short and deceptive on paper but the speed work, very effective in practice.
Stage Star: Zormelo
It was Ghana's penultimate sterling performance in the Tour. Ghana gained an amazing rapid recovery in speed and managed to secure a paramount place in the bunch till finish. It was however the French, spearheaded by Alexis Toutelet and a couple of Burkinabes who had already broken away.
Young Star's John Zormelo once again brought smiles to the Team with yet another Fair Play Jersey indicating his intense combatibivity.
Youngster Benjamin Adom Logo, who had already received his tutorials in this Tour brought to bear with some arrogant twist and turns in the main bunch which eventually gave him some respectable placement on the classification sheet. Without an iota doubt, this young chap is set to become an important ingredient into the National Team if he continues this way. The other cyclists – Kenneth Ameyaw, John Kudakpo, Emmanuel Obuor and Emmanuel Taylor had a fairly good day.
Stage Star: Zormelo
Burkina Faso's Minougou Oumarou wared to an astonishing and scintillating victory in a stage tagged 'the stage of death' which runs through the innocent township of Banfora into the heart of Bobo Dioulasso. It covered a ferocious distance of 126km and ended with a bitter criterion over seven laps which saw five Ghanaians falling on the rocks because they were overlapped – leaving Ghana's one ranger John Zormelo in the race. The Ageing Young Stars Supremo managed to finish the race-more than exhausted.
The “espirit du combativité”, the elegance and the strength exhibited by the Burkinabes in this particular stage clearly tags them as the best in the Sub-Saharan African Terrain. They demonstrated the effectiveness of Team work, quality Pistol-Shooting antics and gross fearlessness in all spheres of the sport. For the French, they were in a fantastic class on their own.
Stage Star: Zormelo
A classical climax of this year's “Boucle du coton” took place at the Semaine Nationale de la Culture with high level dignitaries present and representatives of all twenty sponsors.
The Ultimate Yellow Jersey went to Burkina Faso's bullish sprinter ILboubo Haruna with Ouedraogo Rasmane picking up the Green Jersey for maximum points accumulation.
French Team”Orleans” picked up the best Team in the Tour with quality understanding in Team work and cohesion.
Team Ghana plugged the General des Assurance slithering Fair play Trophy as well as the “Espirit Sportif” Trophy for best team spirit and Sportmanship.
Certainly, a first class training session for the Ghanaians would ensure a wonderful performance from these young guys. Cycling is a team work and not individual exhibition. As the team prepares for the up-coming Unity Games, it will surely serve as an added on of training for the selected 18 cyclists for the final justify-your-inclusion towards the upcoming All Africa Games in Maputo.
Excitable journalists, cycling fans and armchair pundits will agree that the rightful support from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Sports Council under the colourful umbrella of Worlanyo Agra and his super team have indisputably lifted the face of Ghana Cycling to a different level.
Tel: +233 27 7452126/+233 24 2255616/+233 24 1242616/