Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Algerian Grand Tour

The Algerian Grand Tour is currently halfway through yet not many have any idea that there is a series of races happening that rack up 22 days of racing within a month just a few hours south of Europe. In the month of March, Algeria plays host to 22 days of racing spread out over 10 races and 25 days from March 6th's Circuit International d'Alger to March 30th's Criterium International de Blida. The Tour of Morocco happens just a few days after the conclusion of the Algerian Grand Tour and offer another 10 days of racing. That is 32 racing days in a bit over 5 weeks time. Yet the turn out for these races is...poor.

The majority of the starters come from Algeria, which has a pretty good scene as the French did their best to impress their mores while Algeria was a colony, but Rwanda, Morocco and Eritrea send national teams while some French, British and other randoms show up.

Currently, the only rider that I have seen finish every race so far through through the Thursday's last stage of the Tour International de Setif is Eritrean Mekseb Debesay. Debesay won the Tour de Blida along with a stage, took the Criterium de Setif and a stage of the Tour de Setif. Debesay, who is riding with the Eritrean National Team, rides of the German Bike Aid team and was 18th in the Amissa Bongo Bongo Bongo in February in Gabon. The lowest finish he has had so far in the Algerian Grand Tour is 15th on one stage of the Tour Internationale d'Oranie.

Circuit d'Alger - Hichem Chabane (Algeria) wins solo
Tour d'Oranie - Chabane wins 2 stages but Azzadine Lagab (Algeria) takes the overall due to a long breakaway getting time up the road.
GP d'Oran - Janiver Hadi (Rwanda) wins a big bunch sprint
Tour de Blida - Debesay wins the first stage and proceeds to take the overall. Chabane wins another stage and U23 Adebl Barbari wins a stage and takes 2nd overall.
Criterium de Setif - Debesay wins a bunch sprint
Tour de Setif - Nabil Baz wins the opening stage in a big solo effort and proceeds to hold on through an Eritrean onslaught that included a different Eritrean winning the final three stage including Debesay. The final stage saw the Eritreans go 1-2-3-4-5 (as seen below) but Baz held on for the overall.

So if you have a continental team that is looking to get a ton of racing days and looking to bond in a foreign country, then why don't raise some funds and get your team over to the Maghreb. You might even be able to get into the Tour du Maroc and get a month's worth of racing in before going back home and destroying all-comers.

We will catch up with the conclusion of the Tour later this month.

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