Dear Eritrean Fans

This is a reproduction of a piece published by Isabel Fernandes on Facebook on 26 September 2022. Ms. Fernandes’s knowledge and experience in the world of cycling as a UCI Commissaire are legendary. She began her career as a Commissaire in 1988 and has worked as a Race Judge in numerous races, primarily working on the African continent. Ms. Fernandes also led the 2016 Rio Olympic Cycling volunteers and staff in ensuring the cycling events for the 2016 Olympics ran smoothly and within the rules of the UCI. She now works in broadcasting as an announcer at cycling events. She spent a considerable amount of time in Eritrea and Rwanda and understands the sport from many aspects. Consequently, her recent post is of great interest to all of us in African cycling — funders, supporters, donors, and of course, the remarkable fans.

***This excerpt is printed as it first appeared. Ms. Fernandes’s native language is Portuguese.***

Dear Eritrean fans,

I can imagine that yesterday’s race frustrated your expectations concerning your National Team results, very far from the medals…

We can look at it in a very superficial way and find excuses such as bad luck or the other teams didn’t work and we depended on them or anything else; excuses are easy to find…

But let’s see it a little more deeply, the plan was (according to Biniam’s words before the race) to take benefit from the work of the strongest teams, and in the first half of the race everything went very well, Natnael entered the first “dangerous” breakaway and all the boys were on the peloton as planned, Metkel was dropped earlier in the circuit, but it’s normal because he doesn’t compete at the WT level (his job for the team had to be done until entering the circuit).

But on the second part of the race the plan was completely destroyed, Biniam didn’t enter in Evenpoel’s breakaway group and the team didn’t help Spain in chasing that group. At that moment almost all the teams were represented in the break and there were not many teams available for pulling in the peloton, that was the moment for the Eritrean National Team to join the Spanish Team at the head of the peloton.

The new reality is… Eritrean riders do not take the start to finish the race but to work for the result, so all of them had the task of pulling until they were empty, we don’t know if it would work or not but they had to try…

Let’s see it even more deeply, the World Championships have to be planned and prepared in advance, it should be a goal on the riders’ calendar and to make it possible it has to be coordinated with the riders’ teams. Special preparation and adaptation should be done, because of the kms or the time difference. To have a rider win is not enough (as we could see yesterday). You need to have a team ready to place him where he has to be at the final, you need to have a captain inside the team who reads the race very well (especially on races without radios, this is fundamental), and you need to have a coach on the car with more knowledge about international cycling than the riders he is leading, he also needs to know very well the other riders and their way of racing. A coach is not a team car’s driver who gives bottles to the riders, he is the chief. You need to have experienced staff people. You need to have all the situation under control and it can only happen when everything is planned with time and not one week before the start of the race.

To represent Eritrea in the World Championships is a mission for each member of the delegation.

And it’s not only about the Elite riders. We have to think as well about the other categories: any of the U23 finished the race and for Juniors, there were better results in the past.

To have a rider like Biniam doesn’t mean that it’s time to relax. No way, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s time to learn more, to train more people, to take the opportunities to upgrade your National Team and cycling level in Eritrea. It’s time to do things at an international high level cycling.

As I said in 2013 (my first time at the Tour of Eritrea), I repeat now: YOU NEED TO TRAIN PEOPLE, TO GIVE THEM THE KNOWLEDGE THEY NEED TO BE AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN CYCLING…

This is my reflection about the World Championships; I hope you don’t misunderstand me 🇪🇷

2022 UCI Road World Championships Wollongong – Training – 22/09/2022 – Biniam Girmay (Eritrea) – photo Luca Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2022