Kenyan Team To Ride Haute Route 2012
by Henry Peacock
The Haute Route will start out from Geneva [19th August] and traverse the Alps across to finish in Nice [25th August]. Among the participants is a team of seven unique cyclists: The Kenyan Riders, who will be the first black African team to participate in some of the most prestigious cycle races over the next few years.
As an important milestone towards this goal, the Haute Route will provide the team with vital experience of a multi-stage event in the mountains. Aged between 24-29, the Kenyan Riders will scale 21,000m during the seven-day event covering 780km in the process.
In 2006, Nicholas Leong from Singapore arrived in the tiny village of Iten in Western Kenya to start recruiting cyclists. Iten is famous for producing some of the greatest distance running champions of all time, and Leong wanted to see if was possible to nurture this hub of talent to perform on two wheels.
Emulating the same successful training techniques that had been used in the region to develop running talent, he put together a training programme. The result is a fascinating project built on the belief and determination that one day the Kenyan Riders will make the start line – and hopefully the podium - of the world’s most famous professional cycling race.
Valuable Experience to be Gained at Haute Route
Speaking about the seven riders who will take on the 780km Haute Route challenge in August, Leong described the make up of the team: “We have a multi-tribal team. Most come from rural areas and none of them completed secondary school. These are hard men; they have dug 10 meter boreholes with their hands and simple tools, hauled 90kg sacks of corn up hills, endured abandonment and deaths in their families, and generally experienced deprivation throughout their lives.”
Almost all of the team used a bicycle, the basic 1-geared Black Mamba, in some capacity in their daily lives.
The riders taking part: Paul Ngasike Agorir, Suleiman Kangangi, John Njoroge Muya, Hillary Kiprotich, Samwel Mwangi, Benjamin Kipchumba Kogo and Samwel Ekiru.
It is almost unheard of to discover such a refined training camp for cycling in western Africa, which Leong runs using local resources and the 25 staff and riders each take a monthly salary – a revolutionary concept for sports in the region.
The Kenyan Riders have just arrived in France to begin an action packed summer of cycling races in preparation for the Haute Route.
More details about the project and their progress is available at http://www.kenyanriders.com.
For more information about the Haute Route: http://www.hauteroute.org/en/
- 21/08/2011 - From Geneva to Nice through
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