Natnael Berhane, representing the African nation Eritrea, challenged a field of the world’s best cyclists finishing 13th place during the Men’s Elite Road Race at the UCI Road World Championship 2016 in Doha, Qatar.
After an early attack by Natnael Berhane, a group of seven riders broke away from the peloton and kept the gap in the first 100km of the race.
In an astonishing performance the Eritrean was still able to cling on to a newly formed leading group of 25-man until the finish line despite difficult climate conditions and stifling heat in Doha.
Race organizers did not have Eritrea on the list of Belgian, British, German, Columbian and French favorites, but Natnael’s 13th place comes hardly as a surprise given the African nations cycling success in recent years.
Eritrean riders made history in their 2015 Tour de France debut with riders like Natnael Berhane, Merhawi Kudus and Daniel Teklehaimanot – the latter became the first African to wear the climbers’ polka-dot jersey.
Natnael was also the first black African rider to win a European race bringing home the Queen stage and the overall classification of the Tour of Turkey in 2013.
Eritrea has plenty of talents and a long cycling history after Italian colonialists introduced the sport to Eritrea in 1898.
Today’s race was overshadowed by an incident after which the race commissioner had to issue a warning following a verbal spat between Degenkolb (Germany) and Debusschere (Belgium).
#UCIDoha2016 incredible to have 4 of our guys in the front selection at worlds. Go EBH, @Natnaelb2, @MarkCavendish & @nic_dougall! pic.twitter.com/dfjWqMFlSC
— Team Dimension Data (@TeamDiData) October 16, 2016