Defiant Azzedine Lagab rides Deutschland Tour after facing racial abuse from German coach at Olympics

The 34-year-old Algerian has won his national championships 11 times in his career

Azzedine Lagab riding at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Azzedine Lagab will race the Deutschland Tour in a show of defiance after facing racial abuse at the Olympics by a German coach.

Lagab is the current Algerian national champion and is set to race alongside the likes of Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) in Germany. 

The Algerian has joined German Continental team Bike Aid for the race, to push against prejudice after he, along with Eritrea's Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, were the subject of racial abuse from a German coach at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

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During the men's Olympic time trial the coach, Patrick Moster, was filmed shouting to his rider Nikias Arndt: "Get the camel riders! Get the camel riders! Come on!"

Moster has since been suspended by the UCI.  

Team Bike Aid, a charity-run German team that looks to give opportunities to African riders to race, wanted to make a statement against this incident but didn't want to "jump on the populist bandwagon".

Bike Aid boss, Matthias Schnapka, contacted Lagab after the incident to offer him a place on the team to ride at the Deutschland Tour, an exceptionally important race in the team's calendar.

Schnapka said: "I could have imagined that he would find my contacting him inappropriate. I proposed him to ride the Deutschland Tour with Bike Aid and asked him to share his honest feeling about it at that moment. 

"Azzedine agreed and told me his story, through which I got to know an athlete from Africa who has experienced a lot, found his own way and can pass on a lot to young African athletes."

Schnapka added his praise to the 11-time Algerian champion, talking of how Lagab struggled to find a team as a young rider with his dream being to ride for a European squad. This did not happen despite riding at the London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"At the latest after this incident, my previous behaviour towards Azzedine Lagab felt wrong," Schnapka continued. "I overcame my insecurity and decided to contact him. With the Deutschland Tour, Azzedine now has the chance to tell his life story, to take another step as an athlete, and thus to further encourage young riders in his home country to fight for their own way,"

Bike Aid wanted to show, along with Lagab, that racism is not acceptable and to really do something about it there needs to be more than "media flash in the pan" stories.

Schnapka finished by saying: "I think if we as a team stand by what we claim to be, then we have to take this on and question ourselves. Many asked if we are sure that this was the right decision. No, we aren't. However, we can hope that the negative event will be the impetus for something positive,"

The Deutschland Tour starts on Thursday, August 26 with a very strong line-up racing for the four-day long event.

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