In Rwanda, Froome says he has high hopes for African cycling
Great British cyclist Chris Froome said on Friday he has high hopes for the future of the sport in Africa as he returns to the continent of his birth.
The four-time Tour de France winner, born in Kenya, is the star of the Tour of Rwanda, which runs from Saturday to February 26.
“I would like to race more in Africa and I think Africa will definitely be the continent where we will see the biggest strides in cycling in the next decade,” Froome told AFP.
He spoke at the opening of a training center in Bugeser in eastern Rwanda, set up by his Israel-Premier Tech team as part of their “Race for Change” campaign.
“I think such projects will go a long way in attracting a new generation of professional cyclists to Europe. When I was growing up in Kenya, we didn’t have anything like that.
“So it’s great to see this taking shape and I believe we’ll see the fruits of this project in the next decade.”
He highlighted the success of 22-year-old Eritrean rider Binyam Ghirmay, the first black African to win a stage in any of the three tours.
“I think having role models is extremely important. So the Africans who have managed to get to Europe and reach the top level of racing demonstrate that Africans can reach that level.”
Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda will host the Road Cycling World Championships in 2025 for the first time in Africa.
Froome, who tweeted photos of him trying out at the Begesera training track, said the Tour du Rwanda was the first time he had competed in Africa in about 14 years.
“It’s going to be a different style of racing than what we’re used to in Europe, but I’m going to take one day at a time and just do my best,” said the 37-year-old.
Asked about his prospects for success this year, Froome said: “I hope to get to the Tour de France this season in as good shape as possible.”
Frum’s Israel-Premier Tech team has received a wild card for this year’s Tour de France, the world’s biggest cycling race.
He had to withdraw from last year’s event after testing positive for Covid-19.
Froome, who claimed his latest Tour success in 2017, is battling career-threatening injuries in a high-speed crash in 2019.