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La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
« on: January 16, 2016, 20:54 »
Once again, it's time for the highest-ranked African race. The petrodollars of *ga Gabon have helped set up this race, named for the daughter of late president Omar Bongo (and sister of current president Ali Bongo Ondimba).


History
Started in 2006, the first 8 editions have been won by European riders. The inaugural Tropicale saw *fi Jussi Veikkanen of #05fdj Française des Jeux triumph, the next 7 editions were won by *fr Frenchmen (Anthony Charteau alone winning three in a row). 2014 was the first year to see an African win, with #europcar Europcar's *er Natnael Berhane riding a smart race and taking #yellow off Luisle Sanchez on the final stage.
2015 saw the 10th edition of the race; *tn Rafaâ Chtioui rode away on stage 1, and the peloton lost several minutes after being shown the wrong way. With another stage win the next day, Chtioui showed that he wasn't a flash in the pan, and eventually he took the overall win - making #skydive SkyDive Dubai the first non-European team to triumph in Gabon.

Race thread archive: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

year winner team
2006 *fi Jussi Veikkanen #05fdj Française des Jeux
2007 *fr Frédéric Guesdon #05fdj Française des Jeux
2008 *fr Lilian Jégou #05fdj Française des Jeux
2009 *fr Mathieu Ladagnous #05fdj Française des Jeux
2010 *fr Anthony Charteau #boygues Bbox Bouygues Télécom
2011 *fr Anthony Charteau #europcar Team Europcar
2012 *fr Anthony Charteau #europcar Team Europcar
2013 *fr Yohann Gène #europcar Team Europcar
2014 *er Natnael Berhane #europcar Team Europcar
2015 *tn Rafaâ Chtioui #skydive SkyDive Dubai


The parcours
Last year, the two half-stages caused some confusion: A late flight meant that the TTT was delayed by over two hours, and eventually didn't count for the GC. This year, they've put a very short ITT in its place; but the concept with two half-stages on the same day - and not held in the same city, but separated by a cross-country flight! - continues. Let's hope it works out better this year.

For once, the deep east of Gabon is left out this year. The first three stages are held in another familiar area southeast of the capital Libreville, around Kango, Lambaréné, Mouila and Ndjolé. Then the peloton moves to the north of the country, where Oyem is the focus point of the action. Stage 4 finishes in Cameroon, stage 5 starts at the border triangle of Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea and finishes in Oyem - where the peloton then has to catch a flight to the Libreville area for the evening ITT. The final day sees the traditional finishing stage on a circuit in Libreville.

Stage 1: Kango - Lambaréné; 146 km

The profile exaggerates the climbs somewhat; nevertheless, the final 10 km have two short hills (one of them cresting at 1500 m from the line) where an attack could be launched. The first stage is always very lively, and sometimes a race-deciding break gets away here.

Stage 2: Fougamou - Mouila; 105 km

Short and flat; this stage is set for a sprint finish.

Stage 3: Lambaréné - Ndjolé; 130 km

A classic stage through the rainforest, run five times before (in this or the other direction). The final 30 km are hilly and ideal for attacks, with the final 300 m or so uphill.

Stage 4: Oyem - Ambam (CMR); 141 km

A constant up-and-down as the riders make their way to Cameroon, but without big climbs. The final 500 m are uphill, giving puncheurs an opportunity to win.

Stage 5: Meyo Kie (3 Frontières) - Oyem; 119 km

Starting at the Meyo Kie border triangle, there aren't many difficulties on the stage. The final in Oyem features an ascent within the final 2 km, so a sprint won't be straightforward.

Stage 6: Akanda, Stade de l'Amitié ITT; 4 km

The website doesn't bother with a profile, so we can assume this is pan-flat. There are 7 corners to negotiate - but the very short distance means that time differences should be minimal. I expect the morning stage and mid-day plane transfer to have more of an impact on the ITT result than the course itself.

Stage 7: Cap Esterias - Libreville; 132 km

The traditional final - a short run-in followed by 16 laps of a city-centre circuit. The circuit isn't flat, and a breakaway has taken the stage three times before (2010, 2011, 2013) - but it will depend on how the race has unfolded until then: If the GC is decided, a harmless break may get the green light; if the GC is tight and teams chase bonus seconds, they might shut everything down. The same could happen if a team is confident that their sprinter is above the rest of the field and can take the stage home - the previous days should have offered some indication of that.


The teams
Only three European teams take part in the 2016 edition where there have been four or five in the past years (and most of them pro teams). This year, #fortuneo Fortuneo-Vital Concept (who won four stages last year), #direct Direct Energie (five-time overall winners under their previous names) and #bikeaid Stradalli-Bike Aid (with a mix of European journeymen and African talents) make up the European contingent. However, the race will see a South American team participate for the first time: New ProConti team #funvic Funvic Soul Cycles-Carrefour (who also bring two European riders).
Last year's winning team #skydive SkyDive Dubai-Al Ahli return, bringing three Europeans (Mancebo, Palini and Santaromita) and three Maghrebians; Rafaâ Chtioui doesn't return to defend his title.
9 African national teams look forward to measuring themselves against this competition.

Startlist (PCS) Startlist (CyclingFever) Teams (race website)

#fortuneo Fortuneo-Vital Concept: The Breton team will target stage wins with Yauheni Hutarovich; #champfr Steven Tronet can be expected to follow attacks by GC favourites.
#direct Direct Energie: After a 2015 edition without any victories, this team from the Vendée brings their arguably biggest name Thomas Voeckler to Gabon. It remains to be seen if he'll actually do something or is just getting some training miles; Yohann Gène however will mix it up in the sprints.
#skydive SkyDive Dubai-Al Ahli: Took the other teams by surprise with two stages and the overall win last year - but defending champion Chtioui won't be back. Even without him, the team has a great card for the sprints with Andrea Palini; Mancebo, Haddi and Jelloul should get into the GC fight.
#funvic Funvic Soul Cycles-Carrefour: The first race as a ProConti team for the Brazilians who've been left out of the Tour de San Luis. They bring their two Spanish riders, Piedra and Urtasun, and four Latin Americans who are relatively unknown to me. Kléber Ramos won a mountain stage in San Luis last year ... but there are no mountains in Gabon.
#bikeaid Stradalli-Bike Aid: European journeymen mentoring African talents. Tour of Rwanda winner Jean-Bosco Nsengimana is one to watch, Meron Teshome is a good rider too. Richard Laizer, the first Tanzanian on a UCI team, will get valuable experience. Damien Garcia, Nikodemus Holler and Joschka Beck are in it for the experience too - that of racing in an exotic country, against quality competition.
*rw Rwanda: African cycling's feel-good story, emerging from the 1994 genocide to establish a cycling team (with support from US ex-pro Jock Boyer). They bring three riders from the top-5 of the 2015 Tour of Rwanda and Olympic qualifier Janvier Hadi. Underestimate this team at your peril.
*bf Burkina Faso: Rasmane Ouédraogo and Harouna Ilboudo are probably the strongest Burkinabé riders. If things go their way they could become the best of the 'small' African teams.
*cm Cameroon: They'll be super-motivated on stage 4, finishing in their home country. But for Clovis Kamzong, Jérémie Nzeke & co. this race is simply a level too high to aim for a stage win or overall result. They'll be in breakaways.
*ci Ivory Coast: Led by UCI World Cycling Centre alumnus Issiaka Cissé, the Ivorians will still have a hard time against the stronger African nations.
*er Eritrea: The current powerhouse of African cycling, with several pros plying their trade in Europe. Tesfom Okubamariam, Aron Debretsion and Michael Habtom are their strongest riders in this race ... and they might work for Bike Aid's Meron Teshome if the situation presents itself.
*et Ethiopia: This country aims to close the gap to their Eritrean neighbours and rivals. Their tactics in the Tour of Rwanda were far from optimal, though, when they seemed focused more on chasing down Eritrean riders than on making the race themselves. Temesgen Buru will be their leader before going to Europe to ride for Burgos-BH.
*ga Gabon: The local heroes. This will be the first edition without Frédéric Obiang; instead, national champion Leris Moukagni, Cédric Tchouta or Geoffroy Ngandamba will carry the hopes of the nation. These hopes shouldn't get too big, though - last year only two of the six Gabonese riders finished. The team's best overall results were 28th places in 2009 and 2011. Maybe the new national coach Abraham Olano can inspire the riders to better that result.
*ma Morocco: Eclipsed by Eritrea in recent years, the Moroccans are nevertheless the second nation in African cycling. Abdelati Saadoune bears the distinction of being the oldest rider in the race (he's 40 years old). Lahsaini, Abelouache, Er-Rafai, Mraouni and Saber are a bit younger and very strong.
*dz Algeria: Algerian cycling has improved heaps and bounds in recent years. Abdelkader Belmokhtar reached the podium last year, but Abdelbaset Hannachi or Azzedine Lagab are just as good.


The jerseys
There'll be one jersey less than last year ... but that still leaves us with 11! :o
GC leader, stage winner, best climber, points, intermediate sprints, best young rider, best African rider, combativity, best Gabonese rider, best African team, best team ... you name it. No idea how they get that by the UCI, but they do. No idea which jerseys are podium-only, and which actually get worn in-race. Most important, no doubt, is the yellow GC jersey. Check this site to find out what the other jerseys are for.





Coverage
No live TV ... but Twitter is your friend. The race website is good too, they have journals with the previous day's action up every morning: Les Gazettes
And TV5Monde will probably show short highlights at some point - which will then make their way to YouTube.
:web Race website
:twitter Twitter
:facebook Facebook
:web Les Cyclistes Africaines - a web archive of all African cyclists, with all their UCI results and even some non-UCI results
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    LukasCPH

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #1 on: January 16, 2016, 21:00 »
    It's a shame that, for the second year in a row, Africa's top cycling team #mtn MTN-Qhubeka/ #didata Dimension Data has chosen to pass over this race. They're not even sending the newly-set-up Continental team. :(
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  • Leadbelly

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #2 on: January 16, 2016, 21:19 »
    They're not even sending the newly-set-up Continental team. :(

    They seem to have been very late in setting up the devo team and there doesn't seem to be much/any info around about it. Other than Eyob and Gebrezgabiher do we even know who will be riding for them? Girdlestone we can guess as he tweeted about heading to SA the other day, but it all seems a bit ramshackle.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #3 on: January 16, 2016, 21:30 »
    Other than Eyob and Gebrezgabiher do we even know who will be riding for them?
    I only knew about Ryan Gibbons - where did you read about Eyob and Gebrezgabhier?
    And which Girdlestone are you talking about? Dylan (who'd almost be a bit old for the team) or Keagan (who is a first-year U23)?
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #4 on: January 16, 2016, 21:54 »
    Where did you read about Eyob and Gebrezgabhier?
    And which Girdlestone are you talking about? Dylan (who'd almost be a bit old for the team) or Keagan (who is a first-year U23)?

    https://www.facebook.com/443938672409160/photos/a.443965829073111.1073741829.443938672409160/743836249086066/?type=3&permPage=1

    Quote
    Our pure climbers Metkel Eyob & Amanuel Gebrezgabiher are heading to South Africa for Team's traning camp with feeder Team of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka

    There's a bit more in the comments, but Tigrinya (?) hasn't made it's way to Google translate yet.

    I'm just connecting the dots with Keagan

    https://twitter.com/Keagan_vtc/status/687737255339757568

    Why go to SA for the first time in ages, if not to the same camp as the Eritreans are going to. That's my guesswork anyway.
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #6 on: January 18, 2016, 14:14 »
    Palini's month long winter break didn't do him any harm, he continues to win sprints whenever he has the chance to



    good start of the season for #skydive Skydive :)
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #7 on: January 18, 2016, 18:18 »
    #direct Direct Energie: After a 2015 edition without any victories, this team from the Vendée brings their arguably biggest name Thomas Voeckler to Gabon. It remains to be seen if he'll actually do something or is just getting some training miles; Yohann Gène however will mix it up in the sprints.

    looks like he is, sitting 48 seconds behind already after day one. Another famous Frenchman, Brice Feillu, lost 1:34 even - probably after having been in the breakaway earlier on, he is listed as one of those guys picking up 3 bonus seconds at least
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #8 on: January 19, 2016, 12:33 »
    Look who was at the start of stage 2:
    https://twitter.com/tropicale2016/status/689402020843814912

    I'm not really in favour of this inviting of ex-pros. Hinault to start the race, Virenque today ... that has to cost a lot of money. I don't know how much pedigree Olano has as a cycling coach, but if he's not good, that's wasted money too. Money that, in my opinion, would be better spent training the local riders and giving them racing opportunities (they normally only do the Tropicale and the races in Cameroon), or invite another pro team or two.
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #9 on: January 19, 2016, 14:36 »


    Check 1 Check 1,2
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #10 on: January 19, 2016, 14:57 »
    Thankfully there's an ITT to stop it from being a total Palini party.
    But given its short length, he might do well on that, too ...

    I'm hoping for stages 3 and 5 not ending in a straightforward sprint - that would just be too boring.
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #11 on: January 20, 2016, 11:10 »
    highlight of the race are available - and unrestricted as far as I can see - on TV5 Monde Plus

    Stage 1: http://www.tv5mondeplus.com/video/18-01-2016/etape-1-994034
    Stage 2: http://www.tv5mondeplus.com/video/19-01-2016/etape-2-994653

    edit: and also on their Youtube Channel
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #12 on: January 20, 2016, 11:26 »
    Check 1 Check 1,2 Check

    Get off the stage FFS

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #13 on: January 20, 2016, 14:01 »
    Not Palini! :o

    See, I told you stage 3 wasn't straightforward.
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #14 on: January 21, 2016, 16:17 »
    neither was stage 4 - but Palini defended his lead, and Skydive still won.



    Okubamariam gained some time and moved up to 2nd in gc though
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #15 on: January 22, 2016, 15:57 »
    2nd win for Petit today...



    ...and not a good day for #skydive Skydive Dubai. Palini lost the lead to Okubamariam and my new friend and pointscoring-hopeful Ivan Santaromita was disqualified for hanging on the car after a crash.

    Skydive DS Volpi said he had problems with the transponder and the mechanic had to fix it, but I guess it's probably not too unlikely the decision was correct

    http://www.tuttobiciweb.it/index.php?page=news&cod=86558&tp=n
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #16 on: January 22, 2016, 21:06 »
    Ivan Santaromita was disqualified for hanging on the car after a crash.
    He'll fit right in with Nibali next year. :lol
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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #17 on: January 23, 2016, 16:31 »
    Petit won the short TT and is now the race leader.

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #18 on: January 25, 2016, 06:48 »


    Huta :win

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    Re: La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
    « Reply #19 on: January 25, 2016, 10:56 »


    Huta :win



    Good to see Huta getting his minimum win for the season.

    It's Gabon and it's only January, of course, but Petit was much hyped as a youngster and yet, like so many at Cofidis, he never did much in the bigs. Now 25 and having switched this year to Direct Energie, could we see the beginnings of the rider they used to hype?
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