It was great to see the eleven day (10 stages in the 2.2 race plus a 1.2 on the eleventh day to top it off) back on the UCI Africa Tour calendar. After a winter full of training, or after a winter without too much training, this would be the perfect race to either show good form or get in good form. Getting an invitation was not too easy, but using the diplomatic approach in Mauritania with the coach of the Algerian national team by Dirk, the invitation was in our inbox a full 4 weeks before the event.

Unfortunataly, this also meant some of our members could not go (as they were already racing in Argentina), due to the visa procedures for which Bart spend a full morning at the Algerian embassy. Well, at least we did request our visa in time and there were no problems entering our plane, contrary to some other teams. Furthermore, Antonie already eliminated himself from participating the week before the event, by incurring a concussion he underestimated at his work the week before departure.

The last impediment to hosting a team, was finding a team manager on such a short notice. Luckily, the always enthousiastic personification of Mauritanian cycling, our beloved Mister Sy, was willing to stand in and be our team manager for the racing. Having a team manager fluent in French and Arabic would prove to be rather useful over the week and in combination with Mister Sy’s enthousiasm, we were on positive vibes the whole week despite some setbacks. On top of that, Joost (renamed ‘Media’ by Mister Sy on the first day, despite not making too many photo’s) stood in to help our team throughout the two weeks and get his first experience of African racing and African cuisine (and its consequences for inexperienced visitors).

The race itself proved to be a beautiful, well organised Tour throughout, what we thought, would be the whole country. Although we visited many different regions and climates, we realised we only saw about 5% of the enourmous country that is Algeria. Nevertheless, it seemed as if the entire population was packed along the route and in the start/finish towns to cheer on the riders, ask questions and take photographs.

From a sportive perspective, the highlights of the week were definitely Lars wearing the yellow jersey for one day and Luuk winning the fifth stage from the breakaway. Both Lars and Luuk crashed the day after their respective success (which in Luuk case meant he could not continue the race), so our success was only short-lived. On top of that, most stages ended in a mass sprint in which our sprinter Jarri did not stand a chance against the Algerian sprinting legs of Reguigui and Hamza. Nevertheless, Jarri managed to finish third in the closing 1.2 race in the city center of Algiers.

Directly heading to our next races, the Tour of Algeria was a great race for our team to be part of.