Once again, it's time for Africa's highest-ranked stage race:
Before we start concentrating on this year's race, have a look at the last two years' race threads: 2013
and 2012The stages
As every year, the professional peloton will do its first pedal strokes in Africa. It will be represented by four European teams who will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with African riders, including two professional teams from the continent as well as nine national teams.
The 2014 edition has the distinction of stopping in Port-Gentil, the economic capital of the country that has never hosted the Tropicale so far.
The event will begin at Bitam in Woleu -Ntem on January 13 and ended in Libreville on January 19, after seven stages
It will make a stopover in Cameroon (Ebolowa) and pass through the towns of Oyem, Ndjolé, Lambaréné, Mouila, Bifoun, and Kango.Stage 1: Bitam - Ebolowa, 149 km
For the third time in its history, the Tropical goes into neighboring Cameroon, where the craze in people of Ebolowa are always crazy about the race.
This first stage is around 150 kilometers long, which is already a good distance for the start of the season.
Without major climbing, the first day can be made difficult by the road surface.Stage 2: Awoua - Oyem, 120 km
This stage is a classic of the Tropicale around the capital of the Province of Woleu-Ntem.
Unlike most other stages, this is not a simple point-to-point race. After covering the ~45 km between the two towns, the riders will tackle two final circuits:
It's not entirely clear how many laps of each the stage consists of (This Is Africa, after all), but that climb on the "Grand Circuit" could be the place to make a difference.Stage 3: Ndjolé - Lambaréné, 133 km
This is definitely the most difficult stage of the Tropicale, at least one that can cause big changes in the overall standings with difficulties during the first thirty kilometers which therefore can create breakaways.
And especially a bump just a kilometer before arriving at Lambaréné. A lively perspective for this stage.Stage 4: Lambaréné - Mouila, 180-190 km
With 180 kilometers, the longest stage of the Tropicale. Might also be 190 km, the race website gives conflicting evidence.
At the last edition, it was marked by a downpour that had prevented the riders to express themselves fully.
On excellent and very rolling road, this step should not escape a sprinter.Stage 5: Lambaréné - Kango, 143 km
Capital of the department of Komo-Mandah, Ntoum welcomes for the first time a stage of the Tropicale due to higher road network which allows to reach the outskirts of Libreville. Ntoum isn't between the start town and the finish, so just how the stage will pass through there, I'm not sure.
Located less than 40 kilometers from the capital, the arrival will be a very popular home after a difficult day on a very hilly course.Stage 6: Port-Gentil, 126 km Port-Gentil
has never been visited by the Tropicale. This will be done for this 9th edition.
This penultimate stage will provide a stunning backdrop for runners who have at heart to win at the heart of the capital of the Province of Ogooué-Maritime on a
course without much difficulty
pan-flat sprinters' paradise.Stage 7: Owendo - Libreville, 130 km
This final stage in the streets of the capital
is considered the apotheosis of Tropicale as are the Champs-Elysées for the Tour de France. After a short run-in from Owendo, the stage will be ridden on a 5-km circuit.
The stage is generally very nervous and offers a lively spectacle that does not necessarily lead to a bunch sprint.The jerseys
There are lots of jerseys. Figure out for yourself which ones are important:
If it's any help, I can tell you that the GC leader will be wearing this:The startlist
Personally, I'm looking forward to more breakaway and climbing jersey madness from
Estifanos Kebede Gebresilassie and
Lotto Petrus' return to the Tropicale after a year out - also the first UCI stage race for a Namibian national team
outside of South Africa, lead by
Dan Craven and with former national champion Tjipe Mwangi/Murangi, Tour de l'Avenir veteran Costa Seibeb and two guys even I have never heard of.
come without Adil Jelloul or Soufiane Haddi, but with Tarik Chaoufi who's back in Africa after a year of getting paid by Euskaltel to contribute his points. Eritrea
bring a squad that isn't yet as well-known as their biggest stars, but Tesfom Okubamariam is Africa's reigning Continental champion (don't say you weren't warned), while Meron Teshome was 9th in GC last year.
The professional teams are lead by Europcar
who won the last four editions and have reigning champion Yohann Gène (the Guadeloupean is also the rider with most Tropicale stage wins). Natnael Berhane will probably get a carte blanche
to follow attacks while the rest of the team protects Gène. Cofidis
' mix of Frenchies, Belgians and a single Basque I don't know much about, while Caja Rural - Seguros RGA
come with Luisle Sanchez and a bunch of no-holds-barred attackers like Omar Fraile or Antonio Piedra. Wanty - Groupe Gobert
have 6 riders as well, as do Algeria's Velo Club Sovac
But the most anticipated team in the race without a doubt has to be Team MTN Qhubeka presented by Samsung
, starting a season that will get Africa to the Giro. For Linus Gerdemann, it will be the first time he's turned a pedal in anger since the 2012 Vuelta; John-Lee Augustyn is also said to be ambitious
. Adrien Niyonshuti will hopefully continue on his road back from freak injury, while Ferekalsi Debesay and Songezo Jim will provide support for their teammates. And finally, there's up-and-coming Youcef Reguigui who'll lead the team in the sprints.Tropicale records and statisticsDatabase of African cyclistsRoad bookRace website
, mostly auto-translated)Coverage
Every morning, there will be a Gazette
from the race, and every evening, you can find a video and pictures from that day's stage here
There's also the official Twitter account
, and I expect several of the teams to tweet from the race as well.
If you're still not pumped about this race ...https://twitter.com/tropicale2014/status/420594011749900288
And if that didn't help, the official hymn:Source: Race website