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Echoes

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Since 2011 Tom Meeusen is the patron of the initiative Vélo Afrique, organizing an MTB raid through Senegal every year for the charity Bonjour Afrique, in order to raise funds to help building schools in Senegal.  :)

Since 2012, his coach at Fidea Danny De Bie has joined him, along with his father Jan Meeusen.

http://www.veloafrique.be/edities/senegal-26-maart-2014-06-april-2014

Each starter had to gather 4000€ from raised funds including €2200 for travel cost, the rest goes to the social project.

St 1: Saint Louis – Saint Louis 75km: soft day in order to get acclimatized.
St 2: Saint Louis – Louga - Kébémer 110km: first along the coast then to the inlands : Louga and then alongside the old railrway to Kébémer
St 3: Kebemer – Diourbel 115km: through the inlands. They will feel it with the temperature. A lot of terrain changes expected
St 4: Diourbel – Loul 70km: hard stage alongside saltworks. Night in a tent or in the open with the local people
St 5: Loul – Djiffer - Niassam 70km: sprinters stage without too many obstacles
Restday: Optionally: visiting the shell island, the biggest baobab of the country and the mangrove 
St 6: Niassam – Ngaparou 83km: Monster stage alongside the mangrove just before Senegal's tourist centre
St 7: Ngaparou – Lac Rose 91km: First part in the dunes, then asphalt. ITT in Bandia and visit of an orphanage in Pout.
St 8: Lac Rose – Dakar 40km: Tribute stage with visits of the first "Bonjour Afrique" which have been built with the help of the previous editions.

Rest Day of the 2011 edition:


Highlights from the 2012 edition:


2013 Stage 6: Lac Rose - Lac Rose:





Article from Sportwereld after the 2011 edition:
http://www.nieuwsblad.be/sportwereld/cnt/g6h387cfb

Each participant had to gather €3500 for subscribing with which the charity Bonjour Afrique would built a school in a poor area in Dakar. Tom put one of his bikes up to be raffled and that way he paid his subscription.

According to the roadbook, they had to cover 400km but Tom says he had 536. :cool

"The organization mainly consisted of Telenet employees and they saw in me the perfect patron." says Meeusen

It was the first time he'd been to Africa and was shocked by the contrast between rich and poor. "You find great luxury hotels and a few inches further the population in poverty. "
He passed by baboons and hyenas. :D

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  • « Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 11:49 by Echoes »
    "Paris-Roubaix is the biggest cycling race in the world, bigger than the Tour de France, bigger than any other bike race" (Sir Bradley Wiggins)

    Echoes

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    Tom Meeusen will actually make 2 MTB tours in Senegal this year for Vélo-Afrique.  :cool The 2nd one from April 7 to 16.

    http://www.veloafrique.be/edities/senegal-07-april-2014-18-april-2014

    So Tom will stay in Senegal from March 26 to April 16. Gotta love his sporting spirit and dedication.  :)

    The other participants are all different of course. The tour however is the same.

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  • Echoes

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    The map for this year's route is available:   https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z3ZKlXRSo5cI.kU1uVtjdTd8Y


    If an expert can help me embed it, that could be fine (if possible).

    I just printscreened it.

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  • Echoes

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    Interview with Tom Meeusen on Veldritkrant.be (March 7):      http://www.veldritkrant.be/nieuws/2014-03-07/tom-meeusen-over-voorbije-winter-komende-zomer-en-velo-afrique

    Basically he does not consider himself a top rider. He says the top3 is Albert, Nys & Pauwels if the latter is at his best, than come Van der Haar and him but about still concedes that Lars can make his way to the top in a few years' time. For the moment though, Lars and him only need faster courses to reach the top. On extreme courses, they come too short.

    About the doping affair he says it's positive that it's completely over him. He's turned the page since the moment it was known he could join the national selection again. However his name is not totally cleared yet but he had to accept that.

    On May 2014 he'll race the MTB Nove Mesto *cz for the World Cup. It's a race with influence. He'll specifically prepare for it. Unlike Pauwels and Albert, Tom did not give the dream of a selection for Rio 2016 but so far he hasn't proved anything at international level in mountainbike. So he'll just wait for next summer.

    And then a long comment about Vélo-Afrique.

    560km on the mountainbike through Senegal in 7 stages, spread over 10 days. Under 35°C and even more. A sporting challenge for whom the heart at the right place has."Who gathers 4000€ may do it. From these 4000€, 1800€ go straight for the good cause: the building of a school in Senegal", says Meeusen. "The money is perfectly spent: everything is very well followed and the local people built it by themselves. An important data because this way they accept this gift better than if they were not involved in it."

    Meeusen is the face of Vélo-Afrique. Due to the great success (more than 80 participants), the tour through the desert will be held twice. "I'm proud to be the patron of this project. And yeah ! I'll take part in the two trips. On March 26, I'll travel with the first group en I'll stay for a bit more than three weeks."


     :cool

    The commentator from Vier Chris Mannaerts will travel along but not on a bike, with a camera though. I haven't seen any info that there would be a doco on Vier though.







     
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  • Echoes

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    On Tom's off website http://www.tmeeusen.be :

    Quote
    Vélo Afrique 2014: Twee maal (!) 664 kilometer door de woestijn, voor de bouw van weeral een nieuwe school in Dakar! Tom al voor de vierde keer mee, temidden van een enthousiaste groep mountainbikers, waarbij vrienden en familie (ploegleider Danny De Bie, materiaalmannen Eric Van Eekelen en Eric Vergouwen, vader Jan Meeusen, en nonkel Marc Meeusen), onder de loden Afrikaanse zon, voor een prachtig doel! Tom blijft dit jaar 22 dagen in Afrika, hij rijdt maar allebie de edities van Vélo Afrique mee!
    Tom vertelt: "Het is ons in de eerste plaats om het goede doel te doen. Als we weer ons steentje kunnen bijdragen aan het bouwen van de schooltjes vinden we dat schitterend. Daar gaat het ‘m om. Leuk is dat we het via het fietsen van 700 km doen. Vermits ik vooraf geen meter met de mountainbike heb gereden zal het lastig zijn, maar dat is niet erg. Het voornaamste is dat ik via het fietsen mijn hoofd kan leegmaken. Als je zes uur op de fiets zit, maakt dat je kopje helemaal fris. Ik kijk ook enorm uit naar de kameraadschap die er weer zal zijn tussen alle deelnemers."

    Vélo-Afrique 2014: Twice (!) 664 km through the desert for the building of yet another school in Dakar! Tom already for the 4th time along, among an enthustiastic group of mountainbikers, including friends and family (coach Danny De Bie, mechanics Eric Van Eekelen and Eric Vergouwen, father Jan Meeusen en uncle Marc Meeusen), under the African sun of lead, for a great purpose ! Tom stays 22 days in Africa. He rides both editions of Velo-Afrique!

    Tom says: "Primarily, for us, it is for the good cause. If we can again contribute to the building of schools, we find it great. It's what we are going there for. It's fun that we are doing it through 700km bike riding. Due to the fact I didn't ride one meter mountainbike before, it will be hard but that's not a problem. The most important thing is that I can 'empty my head' through riding. If you sit for 6 hours on your bike, that makes your head completely fresh. I'm also looking forward a lot to the camaraderie that will be among all participants." 

    Pictures from stage 1:










    Tom at Zaventem airport:



    Tom first from left (sitting). De Bie first on the right, in the middle:




    I'm looking forward to the videos, though.  :cool
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  • Slow Rider

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    It looks spectacular, great pictures. And a good cause too, of course :)
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  • Echoes

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    I don't understand. Apparently they've changed the route, or else I mixed it with last year's route.  :S

    Anyway, Stage 2 : Gandiol - Ndoyene





    Stage 3 : Ndoyene - Diourbel



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  • « Last Edit: April 19, 2014, 13:04 by Echoes »

    Echoes

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    Video highlights (in HD). How did they manage the drone views !!!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=783981614947683&set=vb.193544030658114&type=2&theater

    Stage 4: Diourbel - Loul





    In Loul, with the "local people":


    Lol @ the ad "Flag: signe extérieur de fête" ("Flag: outward sign of party")  :D

    Flag is a beer commercialized in several Western African countries, shaped by Moroccan brewers in 1960. In 2006 the "Flag spéciale" sold 650,000 bottles a day. It's ranked #4 in the world for its taste.  ;)

    http://www.lavieeco.com/news/histoire-des-marques-au-maroc/-flag-speciale-reine-des-bars-650-000-bouteilles-vendues-chaque-jour-2030.html (in French, Moroccan website).

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  • Echoes

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    Stage 5 Loul - Niassam





    The sunset was really beautiful !!  :)
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  • Echoes

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    Echoes

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    Apparently no pics on Stage 7, so Stage 8 Lac Rose - Dakar, including the visits of the schools that were built up by V-A :)





    Tom and Danny. The 1989 World Champion is going back home now. Tom stays.  :)





    All these kids are cute and they always sem very happy and joyful but I still feel a little bit of sadness when I see they are wearing American tees. I like it when they have traditional clothing like on the above pictures. They certainly have enough to produce textile by themselves, no need for imports.  :) This being said, I'm also wearing some US tees and jeans and all.  :D


    Belangrijk bericht! We moeten de laatste update even bijstellen. Het vliegtuig dat vanuit Banjoul naar Dakar vertrekt om er de deelnemers terug te vliegen naar Brussel, staat momenteel met pech aan de grond in Banjoul. Iedereen staat weliswaar nog veilig te wachten in de luchthaven van Dakar. We volgen uiteraard de situatie van kortbij op en bekijken momenteel met Brussel Airlines hoe we een snelle oplossing kunnen aanbieden.

    So the plane that should carry the participants back to Brussels from Dakar is still in Banjuls, the Gambia, with a mechanical. Everybody's still waiting in Dakar airport.  :lol
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  • Echoes

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    Apparently Group 1 had to spent the Sunday to Monday night at the Novotel in Dakar at the expense of Brussels Airlines but on Monday they came back safe & sound in Brussels.

    As I understand, V-A will post YT clips for Group 2 only. So Group 2 on arrival in Dakar  ;)





    FB comment backing this pic says:

    Na elke etappe kan je jouw outfit laten wassen... Mét Velo Afrique komen we niet gewoon fietsen, maar laten we ook de economie draaien. We zorgen voor de nodige tewerkstelling: we serveren Senegalese maaltijden en laten ons bijstaand door een Senegalese crew. Je mag de impact van onze organisatie niet onderschatten voor de dorpen waar we doorfietsen.

    After each stage you can have your outfit washed... With V-A we don't just come to cycle but also to make the economy turn. We care for the necessary employment: we serve Senegalese meals and are supported by a Senegalese crew. You shouldn't underrate the impact of our charity for the villages that we cross.
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  • Echoes

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    Bingo, Youtube clip for Stage 1 Group II  ;):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGxajN5aZ58&feature=youtu.be

    Tom couldn't refrain from tailwhipping of course.  :s





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  • Echoes

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    No video yet for Stage 2 & 3 but apparently one for Stage 2 (yesterday is coming up)  :)


    Stage 2:



    2 hours ago they were still waiting for the grupetto in Stage 3 who still had to cover 30k while the lead was already done with it. :D
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  • Echoes

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     Stage 2 YT

    At 4.50: "There is your bag in it. You do your thing."  :D

    Stage 3 YT

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  • Echoes

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    Stage 4



    Best pics so far, for me. 

    Have always loved salt marshes  :)

    On the aforelast picture, the board points to an irrigation project. "Digue anti-sel" ("Anti Salt Dam/Dyke/Breakwater") Started in 2009 and apparently sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and rural equipment.  ;)
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  • Echoes

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    Echoes

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    Video Stage 4 ! The hardest for all apparently. The guy at 3.50 says that the last rode 12km in almost 3 hours, lol ??? I must have missed something for that seems impossible I think.  :D But tremendous clip !

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FW1lRqem68&feature=youtu.be

    Stage 5 (with a Dylan cover  ;)):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZqfzm0uftQ&feature=youtu.be

    A whole compilation for Group 1:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJB8-XEUCcU&feature=youtu.be

    Edit: What's the tune? Sounds like Paul Simon.  :)
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  • Echoes

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    Stage 6:



    Stage 7:



    Lac Rose was for years the start of the Paris-Dakar last stage. Very famous place. Perhaps one day it will get back ;)

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  • Echoes

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    Final stage Lac Rose - Dakar:



    Kirène (the water that the kid is drinking from) is a 100% Senegalese water brand created in 2001 but controls 70% of the Senegalese market: the rest is divided between two local brands Fontaine and Safy and French importers: mainly Pierval & Cristalline.    http://economie.jeuneafrique.com/regions/afrique-subsaharienne/9582-senegal-kirene-prend-de-la-bouteille.html Kirène became the main sponsor for sport and cultural events.

    So the participants have now landed back at Zaventem airport.  :) Nice to follow them again. Apparently next year a trip to Cameroon is planned but later in the year (so without Tom I guess since it'll be cross time?)  but so far nothing planned for Senegal.  :( Though well, perhaps there's no need for yet another school, it might be a good thing, after all. ;)   
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  • Echoes

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    Nice article by Het Nieuwsblad: http://www.nieuwsblad.be/article/detail.aspx?articleid=DMF20140415_01069646

    Apparently Vélo-Afrique is a consequence of the humanitarian projects that Telenet had planned when pop singer Koen Wauters (Belgian pop band Clouseau) raced the Paris-Dakar rally. Now that the Paris-Dakar rally no longer starts in Paris and no longer ends in Dakar, and no longer crosses Africa (:lol) the school projects continue but with some other forms of sporting events to promote it.  ;)


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  • Echoes

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    Tom is currently busy with a training session in Mallorca. Yesterday he had to do some testing to see where he is because he still thinks he's in African mode.

    https://twitter.com/TomMeeusen/status/458574819156836352

    So he's asking his teammates not to exhaust him.  :lol

    https://twitter.com/TomMeeusen/status/458618676582035456

    Jens Vandekinderen does not believe it's that serious, lol.

    https://twitter.com/JensVdk/status/458622100434341888

    Amazing Tom ! He seems never to rest.  :Sleeping:

    Okay so apparently there's still a trip to Senegal planned next year: http://www.veloafrique.be/ but no defined date at the moment. Perhaps I'll try to review it here if you're still interested. ;)

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