2014, a German team set off on new ways in professional cycling. For the first time, a European cycling team is working intensively to develop African cycling and also aims to transport the great stories from those countries where cycling enjoys a higher status than the Tour de France in France. Above all, the team would like to offer the local talents the opportunity to show their potential outside of Africa, to develop themselves and make the leap to the top of the world. A small piece of equal opportunity.
If and how this succeeds is at the beginning an adventure with an unknown outcome. But with Mekseb Debesay from Eritrea succeeds the big litter. He wins several races with the team and thus the overall standings of the UCI Africa Tour. He will also be voted Cyclist of the Year in Africa and will subsequently receive a World Tour contract from Dimension Data. There he rides 3 years side by side with Mark Cavendish, Edvald Boasson Hagen or a Tyler Farrar.
But even a World Tour team ultimately fails because of the difficulties posed by the political obstacles that prevent people from Africa from participating in a global world. It is politically not wanted that people of this origin, despite all available papers, despite understandable and legitimate motives may move in "our" world, as it seems normal for us in the western industrialized countries.
Mekseb Debeay's contract is ultimately not renewed - despite great results. The expense of visa services and the uncertainty at all, are out of proportion and make through unforseeable barriers a predictable season impossible for rider and team. But this is also an unchanged everyday life for BIKE AID and the reason of many sleepless nights. Every time our athletes are deeply disappointed, once again they get not allowed to board a plane because of their Nationality.
Mekseb expressed his disappointment by making a clear statement in the road race by winning the Africa Championships this March. The fastest cyclist in Africa without a contract.
"BIKE AID gave me the most important opportunity of my career in 2014, the team was my family, helped me achieve results, set me up and laid the foundation for my career. I can now give this team a lot back and pass on my experience to other African athletes. But I also hope to continue to achieve good results myself", said Mekseb Debesay.
Mekseb is not the only successful athlete from the Debesay family. His just 19-year-old brother Yakob won a stage at the Tour de Rwanda in 2019, as well as the junior and mountain jersey and seems no less talented than his big brother. His sister Mossana, as acting African road champion, encourages many girls who are even more difficult than their male counterparts.
We are happy to welcome Mekseb, one of Africa's most charismatic cyclists back in our team, and we are looking forward to inspiring our team and above all young African riders with his experiences of the last 3 years - family remains family!