The second stage of the Tour of Eritrea is today, April 19th, from Hagaz to Asmara (117 kms).
The race left Hagaz at 9:00. As is common, the riders burst of speed from the start line was aggressive, but could not maintained as the peloton raced up the mountain from Hagaz to Keren. In spite of the slope a leading group had formed by the time the riders got to Keren, with a time gap of 00:01:40.
The group that led the way through the streets of Keren and part of the Baliwa climb towards Asmara were Zemenfes Selomun (#52), Amanuel Tsegay (#56), and Mehari Tesfatsion (#55) of the Eritrea National Team. Also riders of Eritel Sport Club: Million Amanuel (#61) and Aforki Habtemichael (#65). From Sembel Club we had Dawit Haile (#91) and Dawit Yemane (#96). Myles Vican Musschenbroek (#73) of the South Africa National team as well as the Amore Vita’s Redi Halilaj (#82) and David Ugarte (#85).
The uphill route from Keren to Asmara slowly forced the riders to slow to one peloton. Amanuel Tsegay (#56) then pitched a surprising persistent attack. He was not caught by any rider until the finish line in Asmara. Leaving the group of chasers and the peloton back at a time gap of 00:02:49 Amanuel Tsegay (#56) became the stage winner. He received two well-deserved jerseys!
Following Amanuel 00:01:35 was the second group of chasers; at eye sight the chasers were mainly from Eritrean National Team, Eritel Sport Club and Sembel club. Their sprint drove the fans in Asmara, gathered at Bahti Meskerem, wild! The 2nd, 3rd and 4th place were separated by mere microseconds. South African Hendricks enjoyed the cheers he received from the fans for racing and finishing with his Eritrean colleagues. “I am happy” he said “I am glad I made it in the top ten along with the Eritrean riders”.
Meron Teshome of Bike Aid though was infuriated, he got mad at his bike, which he just threw on the ground. He hasn’t spoken about it, but rumor has it, he got a flat tire 3 meters away from the finishing line. But that is not all, the yesterday’s yellow jersey holder seemed like he had another problem. Isabelle Fernandes, the UCI Commissioner, argues that Meron perhaps was victim of a “block” while sprinting. Commissioner Isabelle refused to print the results! After the race she went to our race headquarters to re-watch the game.
At 4:00 PM (EAT) the commissioner finally printed the results. The undeniable 1st place went to Amanuel Tsegay, while Meron Teshome finally placed 2nd place, lowering Zemenfes Selomun who was, in the eyes of the public ahead of Meron Teshome. Zemenfes Selomun and Meron Araha whom had lead throughout the whole race were threw down to 8th and 9th. At 3rd place, Trevino Clint Hendricks of South Africa National Team.