“We are going to see a lot more African runners in the peloton in Europe” in the coming years

We are going to see a lot more African runners

First stage of the Tour du Rwanda, the toughest cycling race on the African continent, this Sunday February 18. Among the headliners of the race, Pierre Latour for TotalEnergies, double French time trial champion, Merwahi Kudus, winner of the Tour of Rwanda in 2019 for the Eritrean national team, William Junior Lecerf of Soudal Quick- Step, rising star of Belgian cycling, but above all the four-time Tour du France champion, Chris Froome, back in Kigali for the second consecutive year. A return to his roots on the African continent for this cycling juggernaut, British of Kenyan origin, who was born and raised in Nairobi.

4 mins

From our correspondent in Kigali,

RFI: Chris Froome, hello. This is your second consecutive time at the Tour du Rwanda, why did you decide to come back this year?

Chris Froome : It’s always a pleasure to be here. I grew up in Africa, not far from here in Kenya. So it’s a bit like returning home, being here in Africa. It’s always a pleasure and it’s also good for preparing for the next races coming to Europe, because here we have the altitude and the heat which also helps. It’s not bad training.

RFI: A feeling of unfinished business perhaps?

Yes of course. Last year it was a tough race. It’s always a difficult race here, so yes it’s good to prepare for the next races.

RFI: Is there also the idea behind preparing for the Kigali Worlds in 2025, in a year and a half?

The idea is to see the courses and understand a little of what these World Championships are going to be like. Of course, that’s part of the reason I’m here.

RFI: How do you see these first World Championships in Africa?

It will be huge for cycling in Africa, and for cycling in Rwanda too. In my opinion, in the next ten or fifteen years, we will see a lot more African riders coming into the professional peloton in Europe. In my opinion, this will really be the next step for cycling.

RFI: And for you, it’s also a return to your African roots. What’s in it for you?

Yes, it gives me a special feeling to be here. Growing up in Kenya, I could never have imagined that a professional race could be held here in Africa. It’s so beautiful to see and also to be here.

RFI: Do you think you have a role to play in the development of African cycling?

I am always an ambassador for the development of cycling in Africa, because in my opinion they have the talent. You just need to see the level of athletes in the marathon for example. They are on everyone’s level. So in my opinion, this can also be the case for cycling but we need structures behind it to help the development of the discipline.

RFI: Do you think you will invest in the development of African cycling after the end of your career?

Yes of course, I already have a project in Kenya where we have already started working but it’s really only the beginning for the moment. We will see later about the question of development.

RFI: When you started your career, did it seem credible to you to see African runners fighting for victories in the biggest races in Europe like today?

Yes, that’s great. They are the ambassadors of sport here in Africa. In my opinion, there will be many more in the future.

RFI: You are now 38 years old, how much longer do you see yourself riding?

I am still under contract for two years, this year and next year. For now, that’s enough.

RFI: And over the next two years, what are your objectives?

I would like to return to the Tour de France this year and do my best to try to win a stage for example. I feel like I’m not finished yet and I still have good feelings on the bike. I really enjoy the work, the training and the preparation. For the moment, I have the motivation to continue.

RFI: What is your opinion of the great runners of today? Would you have liked to fight a few years ago against riders like Pogačar for example?

They come from a new generation that is much younger, much more explosive. It’s impressive, all these new riders are really great.

RFI: Chris Froome, thank you.

Thank you, thank you.