By Jonny Long
Cyclists from Sierra Leone have been handed a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to compete abroad after ASO invited them to the first race of the UCI Africa Tour 2020, the Tour de Faso in Burkina Faso.
Representing the country will be the Lunsar Cycling Team, that is, if they manage to raise the funds necessary to be on the start line come October 25.
In order to make the 1,600km journey inland across Guinea and the Ivory Coast, along with racing equipment and funds for six riders and three support staff, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise the £6,550 needed.
Domestic racing opportunities are limited in Sierra Leone, and so races in other West African nations are necessary for rider development.
"Cycling in Sierra Leone has been struggling for a number of years, receiving no financial support for its activities from the Ministry of Sport since 2012," Winston Crowther, president of the Sierra Leone cycling federation, told Cycling Weekly.
We are currently developing a group of riders for the future, athletes we have a great deal of hope for. The invitation to participate in the Tour de Faso comes at a vital time in their development and represents a perfect chance for these young talents to compete abroad."
There have been 30 editions of the Tour de Faso since 1987, which takes place over 10 days and is operated by Tour de France organisers ASO. Since 2005, it has operated as a professional event as part of the UCI Africa Tour. In 2014 it was cancelled because of the Ebola outbreak.
Throughout the UCI Africa Tour, which consists of a series of one-day and stage races, riders accumulate points and the rider with the most wears the UCI Africa Tour jersey.
You can find the crowdfunding campaign here.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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