Racing in 2021 was a tricky undertaking for those riders outside of the World Tour bubble and so the results and rankings of the growing number of professional African riders were a little fragmented, but with some real highlights and interesting developments.
Let us look at the final UCI Africa Tour individual rider rankings:
Many congratulations to Eritrean Biniam Ghirmay (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux) who tops the rankings with 746 points, South Africa Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates) in second with 730.66 points, and Eritrean Merhawi Kudus (EF Education – Nippo) in third with 368 points.
Riders from Eritrea, South Africa and Algeria dominate almost all the top fifteen places, with only Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay (Team Bike Exchange – Jayco) in the #12 spot.
Although we are seeing a good smattering of professional teams represented in the table above, there is still a lot more work to be done in terms of African riders being represented at the top level of our sport, the World Tour.
With Team Qhubeka Nexthash disappearing from the top level, and dropping to the third tier of the sport, there is now no ‘African’ representation at the highest level. Although Doug Ryder’s team are only at the Continental level for 2022, its good at least to see half his current squad (6 riders) are from the African Continent. You can see the team’s current roster on the ProCyclingStats website HERE.
There is still some time for last minute transfers to take place, and with phenomenal talent like Eritrea’s Henok Mulubrhan inexplicably without an offer at the World Tour or Pro Continental level, there still seems to be some hesitation with taking on African riders as Henok’s palmares is equal to, and exceeds, many European riders who have secured top level, or second level rides.
We will of course be tracking and interviewing African riders at top level races across the world in 2022, as well as on the ground reporting at major African races like Tour du Rwanda, La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and the African Championships. Let’s hope for a strong 2022 of racing for our African talent! #AfricaRising
(Thanks as always to ProCyclingStats for their excellent rider profiles)