NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – The Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) is working on a plan to have a competition christened ‘Tour de Nile’ to mirror the famous French cycle, Tour de France, by end of next year.
According to the Confederation’s president Mohammed Azam, the tour will route across all countries sharing the River Nile.
“It was a dream that we had from 2002 and we have had subsequent meetings from then on trying to explore how we can work it out. We started to prepare for it last year and so far the plans are going on well,” Azam, who is also the International Cycling Union (UCI) vice president said.
He added; “We have already had a meeting with the Minister of Sports in Uganda and Kenya and hopefully we can meet other government officials in the other countries because this is an important mission which has to involve the government.”
Azam held a meeting with presidents of the Cycling federations from the involved countries in Nairobi where the initial plan was shared out and ideas floated on how to make the race tick.
The plan is to have the race start in either Rwanda or Burundi, then go to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and culminate at the end of the Nile River draining into the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.
“If we start from Burundi, we go to Ethiopia for two stages, then Uganda for one stage, Kenya two stages, Ethiopia two stages and then go to Sudan. We will discuss with the government whether the border from Ethiopia to Sudan will be okay to cross by cycling, if not, we will fly to Khartoum and continue from there,” Azam explained.
“Kenya was among the countries which floated this idea and we are very much in it, we want to participate fully,” Kenya Cycling Federation boss Julius Mwangi pointed out.
Mwangi and Azam on Thursday afternoon met and held talks with Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa at his Kencom House office where the government has committed to help Kenya in the course.
The two day meeting by Azam and Cycling Federation chiefs from the Nile Region was the preliminary set off for the finer details of the event.
Among the issues to be ironed out include the definite route of the race, the duration, the final dates, prize money and participating countries.
“Already, all countries of the Nile will participate. We will discuss whether we can invite other African countries as well as European, Americas and Pacific Region teams. Maybe we can have the first event as all African then expand in the second edition,” Azam said.
“We want to have a good championship that is why we are proposing the dates to be end of next year. We want to do something good not 50-50. We need time to prepare all the details well,” Azam opined.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s Cycling Chief Mwangi has said Kenya is interested in hosting the 2025 World Cycling Championship and will make a formal presentation to the government.
Azam disclosed that the International Cycling Union has already given the hosting rights of the 2025 Championship to Africa for the first time ever and has invited African countries to bid. Rwanda which organizes an annual ‘Tour de Rwanda’ championship has already expressed interest.
“Kenya is interested in hosting the championship and we will talk with the government and see whether they will support,” Mwangi noted.
Close to 120 teams will participate in the championship and Azam said the African confederation will help countries put up bid documents but that will only be after getting assurances from the respective governments.