The triumph of Eritrea’s Natnael Berhane at the just ended Algerian cycling tour will be one to remember for the 21-year old cyclist. Pundits are already seeing a bright future and an exceptional future for the young athlete.
The triumph of Erythrea’s Natnael Berhane at the just ended Algerian cycling tour will be one to remember for the 21-year old cyclist. Pundits are already seeing a bright future and an exceptional future for the young athlete.
The 18-year old who rose to high level cycling at just 18, is from the North region of Eritrea. He took a different step in his career in 2011; a year of success and audacity. He was exceptional at the Rwanda tour finishing second after some brilliant performances on the way, the he later failed in the final battle for the yellow jersey at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo. A high level tournament that sees the participation of professional European teams, some that are regular participants at the Tour de France, the Giro or La Vuelta. During the last lap in Libreville, which he won, he was praised by his opponent of the day, Frenchman Jérôme Pineau from Quick Step: “There is no reason to be ashamed of losing in front of a cyclist like him; he ran well, he was the strongest of the peloton.” The French athlete did not only congratulate him but also acknowledged to have learned a lot from Champions like the Eritreans: “Either we do like the Africans by coming here and taking the risk to be beaten or we remain at home,” the athlete from Nantes responded to those who are surprise of the Libreville result, I chose to come here and I stand by it. I am even happy that the Eritrean defeated me, it is a good sign.” Berhane went ahead to participate in the first edition of the Algerian cycling tour. He was one of the brilliant cyclists there even though he ended up third in the final classification. His potential, his early know-how, his ambition, his determination at work helped him open the doors of the International Cycling Centre. An institution created by the International Cycling Federation, UCI to train and help young athletes participate in international races, particularly in Europe. Motivated by this affection from the cycling world, the Eritrean achieved a remarkable second half of the season in fine form, notably winning the African Championship title both individual as well as team titles in Asmara, Ethiopia. At the Tour de l’Avenir, a European race reserved mainly for youths, Behrane finished 25th. An honourable position for his first outing out of the continent. In order to win the Algerian cycling tour ahead of strong opposition from teams like France, Greece, Latvia, Morocco and Algeria, he put together several resources.
A strong climber, he equally knows how to ride and chase breakaway opponents when necessary. This is the case during the last stage in Oran when he crossed the finish line as first. As an accessible and modest champion, he first of all dedicated his win to his trainer who has been with him for four years: “He always believed in me,” Behrane said emotionally as he put on the yellow jersey in the Western-Algerian headquarter, “as I believed in myself. He told me last year, I hope you will win the Algerian cycling tour, you are capable. If you win, you will be the most complete athlete of your generation.” Behrane is already one at the Eritrean and African level and it is now left for him to conquer Europe and the rest of the world. Certainly in three or four years.
Born on 5 January 1991
2nd at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in 2011 behind his compatriot Daniel Treklehaimanot
3rd at the Tour d’Algérie in 2011
2nd at the Tour du Rwanda 2011
African Champion in 2011
Champion Champion team in 2011
25th at the Tiour de l’Avenir 2011
1st at the Tour de l’Erythrée