The Tour of Eritrea continues on the 22nd of April for its 5th and final stage. The 5th stage covers 117 kms from Massawa to Asmara. The race started after a heartfelt farewell from the inhabitants of Massawa.
Today’s race is all about climbing. The difficult ascent towards the capital city, Asmara, is situated 2345 meters above sea level. In the previous stages the riders started off with a gradual pace – outside Massawa few breakaways were registered by riders from Rwanda National Team.
During the climb to Dongolo the peloton pressed on as one group. The race started heating up in the mountains surrounding Ghindae. Zemenfes Selomun and Dawit Haile attacked and left the peloton at a time gap of 00:01:30. In Ghindae, the peloton was urged to pedal faster as Hendricks of South Africa started his own attack. He too left the peloton, getting closer to the break away. Hendricks finished the race at 4th place.
More riders started breaking away from the peloton and Hendricks was soon joined by Saimon Mussie. Amanuel Tsegay, the yellow jersey holder, and Jean Bosco of the Rwandan National Team joined as well. This group soon joined the leaders at the front. The following group of attackers was composed by Dawit Araya of Sembel and Jean Claude of the Rwandan National Team.
As the riders reached Nefasit, the leading group started to fall apart. Zemenfes kept his fight to stay in the leading group in which Saimon Mussie, two riders of the Rwandan National Team were pedaling hard, building a difference of 00:02:12 from the peloton.
In Seidici the Rwandan riders and Zemenfes, the polka dot jersey holder, led the way to Seidinci where an intermediate sprint was awaiting them. The Rwandan riders had an amazing role in pressing the race at Seidinci. The rider helped one and another securing their spot in the leading group by alternatively staying back and blocking way.
At 10 kms the race was all between Zemenfes and the riders from the Rwandan National Team who took turns to attack Zemenfes. However, near Betegergish, Zemenfes found a way to counter attack and take the final intermediate sprint points and finished first followed by Jean Claude Uweize.
Strong criticism is coming from fans and the public to the coach of National Eritrean Team for risking to send back his riders in the group of attackers leaving only one rider in the leading group. Even though Zemenfes fought to stay there until the end and won incredibly, it was a dangerous scheme that could have cost Eritrea the three jerseys held by Zemenfes.