First European win for Daniel Teklehaimanot

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Teklehaimanot 's was another huge moment for African cycling
Teklehaimanot ‘s was another huge moment for African cycling

By International Cycling Union,

The amazing adventure of Daniel Teklehaimanot of Eritrea, an alumnus of the World Cycling Centre, continues.

On Thursday (25) he won his first event in the UCI Europe Tour, the Prueba Villafranca de Ordizia-Clásica de Ordizia in Spain, with the Orica-GreenEdge professional cycling team, beating Spanish riders Ángel Madrazo (Movistar Team) and David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). 

“I’m so happy to get this victory for the team,” he said. “Everybody worked really hard.”

On the steep course, in very hot and humid conditions, Daniel Teklehaimanot was in his element, comfortably tackling the modest mountain passes of the Basque Country and joining a thirteen-strong breakaway group 2.5 kilometres from the finish. He crossed the line two and eight seconds respectively ahead of the second- and third-placed riders.

Twenty-four-year-old Daniel Teklehaimanot turned professional in 2012 with the Australian UCI WorldTour team, winning his most recent UCI victories last November in the individual and team time trials of the African Continental Championships. This season, because of visa problems, he was unable to join the European peloton until June, when he took part in the Critérium du Dauphiné, followed by some high-altitude stages in Livigno (Italia) and Andorra. His success in the Clásica de Ordizia came despite a lack of competitive experience this season, hinting at a large reservoir of physical potential.

“I was surprised to see Daniel winning the race,” noted his Sports Director, Neil Stephens. “But he’s always a very strong rider. Because of his lack of experience, he’s still struggling with the tactics and the way to move into the race. As the Clásica de Ordizia’s course is harder and harder, it’s just a matter of riders getting dropped on the bike. If you are very strong like Daniel was and if you play with your team mates, you can claim a well-deserved victory!”

Daniel will probably continue his season with the Vuelta a España and/or some French and Canadian dates, such as the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, the GP Ouest-France de Plouay, the Tour of Alberta, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec or the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal.

Three seasons at the World Cycling Centre

Daniel Teklehaimanot came to prominence in 2008 when he took 5th place in the 5th Tour de la Paix in Côte d’Ivoire, just ahead of Irish rider Nicolas Roche, and joined the World Cycling Centre in Aigle (Switzerland) for three years’ training. He was able to develop his technical and tactical knowledge of cycling, take part in UCI Under-23 Nations Cup events (such as the Tour de l’Avenir, where he finished 6th in 2009) and receive treatment for cardiac arrhythmia, which required open heart surgery.

Since then Daniel Teklehaimanot has worked well for his team in the UCI WorldTour, spearheading the lead-out train for its sprinters at the Vuelta a España and wearing the King of the Mountains jersey in the Tour of Poland. He is very popular with spectators, who appreciate his humility and discretion, his ready smile and his generosity. In the Clásica de Ordizia, members of the public posed for photos with him before the start and after the finish, when he donned the winner’s red Basque beret.

In addition, he has become the most well-known face of the WCC, and the standard-bearer for a new generation of African riders who are starting to make a name for themselves on the international circuit.

Daniel Teklehaimanot has opened the way for fellow countrymen Natnael Berhane and Merhawi Kudus, who are also WCC trainees. Kudus, who has just turned 19, won the amateur Tour de Côte d’Or in France and the the very tough Freccia dei Vini in Italy; Berhane, newly signed with Team Europcar, in May became the first Eritrean to win an event in the UCI Europe Tour, dominating the key stage of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.

The 2013 road season is an auspicious one for African cycling, with the success of Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, and the yellow jerseys in the Tour de France of Chris Froome, who was born in Kenya, and Daryl Impey, a South African teammate of Daniel Teklehaimanot.