Tour d'Afrique, the annual 12 000-kilometer bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town, billed as the most grueling bicycle race on earth, has completed its 6th week of the 16 week odyssey and the 2nd section from Khartoum to Addis Ababa known as 'The Gorge'. 

"The scenery in Ethiopia has been absolutely beautiful." reported Canadian racer, Andrew Cameron.

South African expedition rider, Patrick Thomas, said "I reckon it's the most beautiful country in the world."

While the cycling has been tough, the road surfaces have been good in Ethiopia with the cyclists covering distances of up to 160-kilometres a day.

Over the past week they have cycled to an elevation of over 3000 metres above sea level.  "Even the Swiss riders among us were saying that they had never been that high on a bike before!" said Cameron.

The riders enjoyed a rest day in Addis Ababa last week where they took the time to rest, visit Africa's largest market and generally catch up on correspondence and bike maintenance before they started on the third section of the Tour d'Afrique known as 'Meltdown Madness'.

On this 18 day, 1630-kilometre section the terrain changes from the rolling highlands of Ethiopia to flatter countryside interspersed with beautiful lakes. On crossing from Ethiopia into Kenya later this week the riders will experience the challenge of riding through the volcanic desert of Dida Gilgo on an unpaved lava rock road.  They will cycle around majestic Mount Kenya, cross the equator and undergo some of the most drastic elevation changes as they cycle towards the halfway point of the Tour, Nairobi.

Celebrated blind cyclist from Nairobi, Douglas Sidialo and his pilot, Joash Aswani are riding strong in 5th position overall and achieved a stage win last week on the 110km ride from Lake Koka to Lake Lagano. 

Dutch racer, Adrie Frijters still holds the overall lead in the men's race, with Eric Sechler of Sweden, 2 hours and 49 seconds behind him.  Due to a wrist injury, Janet Alexander from New Zealand who won the first section, dropped into second position on 'The Gorge' section, with Eva Nijssen of Holland taking the lead in the women's race by close on 48 hours.

After a rest day in Yabello on Tuesday this week, the riders will head off towards the border and cross into Northern Kenya on Thursday.  They are expected to arrive in Nairobi on Sunday 11th March The TDA 2007 has just reached the end of the 'The Gorge', the second stage in the tour. TDA staff member Rachel Dobson sends this exclusive report: "Currently we are in Addis Ababa (or just 'Addis' as the locals refer to it as) the capital city of Ethiopia. We have been in our new country for a little over 2 weeks and the time is flying by so quickly it is hard to keep track of where we have past and where we are heading. The northern part of Ethiopia is incredibly beautiful and wild and each day has been a contrast to the day before. It is a remarkably different type of beauty to the one we experienced in the Sudan. It has been nice to get the sand out of our eyes, ears, mouth, hair, clothes and tents, enjoy some paved roads and stop 'eating dust' as trucks and buses whiz by. But, as everyone well knows, there is a balance to everything and although the riders have been blessed with great riding conditions, stone throwing Ethiopian children have been added into the mix . Most of the riders were taken by surprise at the rolling hills and mountainous terrain in Ethiopia as well as how green a country it is. Each night they have been inspired and haunted by the words, 'monster climb' or 'rolling hills' or 'wicked descent' in describing the day ahead! The rest day in Addis has been welcomed by many of the riders.


Riders wishing to cycle a section of the Tour d'Afrique 2007 still have time to decide. Contact our office for section registration deadlines. Perhaps one of the following:



Tour d'Afrique, the annual 12 000-kilometer bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town, billed as the most grueling bicycle race on earth, has just completed its 6th week of the 16 week odyssey.  The cyclists are currently riding through Ethiopia on the section known as 'The Gorge'. experiencing the many changes that occur as they travel from the Arabic Muslim world of Northern Africa into the more tribal and traditional nature of the Horn of Africa.

In sharp contrast to the dry and dusty desert landscape of Sudan, the riders have been challenged by the rolling highlands of Ethiopia, mischievous, stone-throwing children, thunder storms and the infamous Blue Nile Gorge, which they tackled on Sunday.

Riding 'The Gorge' involved an 18km switchback descent along a gravel road, losing about 1000 m in altitude, crossing the Blue Nile River and then riding 22 km uphill to an elevation of 2500 m.

"It sounds brutal, and it is." said Tour Leader, Shanny Hill.  "The road is steep in places, bumpy, rocky and seriously busy with traffic and people." 

Due to heavy rainfall the night before there was a huge jam up of vehicles on the way down which didn't affect the riders, but did delay the support trucks by three hours.


"It was an awesome feeling looking at the sweeping views across The Gorge from our campsite on the other side and seeing the road we had cycled down and up."

A time trial was held for the day which saw Christopher Maund of the UK achieve the distance in the fastest time - 1 hour 39 minutes.  Eva Nijisen of the Netherlands was the fastest female rider, who covered the distance in 2 hours 11 minutes.

The riders are scheduled to arrive in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on Tuesday this week, where they will enjoy a rest day.

For regular updates and more information visit www.tourdafrique.com


On the Elephant Highway

Toronto, Canada (April 26) - Tour d'Afrique, the annual 12 000-kilometer trans continental bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town, billed as the most gruelling bicycle race on earth, is currently travelling through Namibia, en route to its final destination, South Africa. The Tour is scheduled to arrive in Cape Town on Saturday 13th May.

The current section, known as 'The Elephant Highway', covers a distance of 1650 km's from Victoria Falls, Zambia, through Botswana to Windhoek, Namibia.  While the roads are paved and mostly flat, the unique challenge of this section for the cyclists is finding the mental and physical stamina to cover distances of up to 200 km's a day as well as dodging elephant and other wildlife that roam freely through Botswana.

In the men's race, Matthew Caretti (USA) still maintains the lead position, with George Oertel (South Africa) and Urs Leuthi (Switzerland) in second and third positions.

Joan Louwrens (South Africa) leads the Ladies' race, with Phillipa Le Roux (South Africa) and Christa Meier (Switzerland) in second and third positions.

Once through 'The Elephant Highway', the cyclists will embark on the final section, 'The Diamond Coast', 1650 kilometres from Windhoek through to Cape Town.

The 2006 Tour, which has doubled in size since last year, is made up of 60 cyclists representing 14 countries &endash; 24 of which are Canadian.  An eclectic bunch, the Canadian riders include a professor, a teacher, a barman, a translator, a PR practitioner, students, businessmen and entrepreneurs as well as a chef, a nurse and a photographer.

Samuel Bail, the youngest rider on the Tour at 19, and currently a student in economics and international development at McGill, was the top ranked junior road racer in Ontario last year.  He has raced for Ontario at national and international world cup events and is using the Tour d'Afrique as training for next season's racing.

Sam was introduced to cycling at an early age by his grandmother, Ayala Manolson, who, at 74, has joined him to cycle the last 3000 km's from Victoria Falls to Cape Town.

On Saturday 13th May, having cycled 12 000 km's in 96 days through 10 African countries, this extraordinary group will ride their final day of the Tour into Cape Town.

Thousands of local South African cyclists and supporters are expected to welcome the riders at the official Finish Line at the V&A Waterfront.

To follow the race and read the cyclists' diary entries, visit www.tourdafrique.com


Tour d'Afrique, the annual 12 000-kilometer bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town, billed as the most gruelling bicycle race on earth, is in its fourth month and the riders are about to enjoy two well-deserved rest days at Livingstone, Zambia, alongside the Victoria Falls.

Travelling through 10 African countries in all, the Tour is growing in numbers as 'sectional riders' join the intrepid 'full distance' riders who have already clocked up over 8 500 km's from Cairo.

The 1 244 km section from Lilongwe in Malawi to Livingstone in Zambia, known as The Zambezi Zone comes to an end this Saturday. For the past 9 days the riders have travelled along the Great East Road in Zambia and have enjoyed the natural splendour of the Lower Zambezi National Park. The roads have been paved all the way, some of the up hills have been challenging, but in general, the riding has been described as 'moderate' by all.

The riders enjoyed a day off in Lusaka, which has been best described by Canadian, Sam Bail, the Tour's youngest rider:

"I write this from a mall in the capital of Zambia. I've not been into the city and have no intention to do so. I'm as happy as can be spending the day in a mall. I realize this sounds crazy but when I walked into this mall I stared in amazement at everything (movie theatre, bank, grocery store, café) in the same manner that I looked on in amazement at the first African village I went through. I feel like I'm seeing a movie theatre for the first time &endash; everything is amazing. I feel like a small town African boy going to the big city. There is a Subway store across from me, a movie theatre beside me and fully stocked grocery stores around the corner; I feel like I'm in North America.

I saw 2 movies yesterday after my ride and I plan to see a couple more today. The movie theatre even has real popcorn and candy!! After the day is over I'll be ready to get back to Africa… I think."


Sam is being joined by his 74 year old grandmother, Ayala Manolson, in Livingstone to ride the 'Khoisan Challenge' section to Cape Town.

American rider, Matthew Caretti is in first position in the men's race, followed in second position by George Oertel from South Africa with Urs Leuthi from Switzerland in third position.

Joan Louwrens from South Africa still leads the lady's race, with Phillipa le Roux also from South Africa, in second position. Christa Meier from Switzerland lies in third position.

The 1 650 km section ahead of them, known as 'The Elephant Highway' will start from



Matthew Caretti and Joan Louwrens claimed the Meltdown Madness section title and both held onto their overall leads in the Tour. After today's day off in Nairobi, they are right back at it, with 6 new participants entering the mix, as the Snows of Kilimanjaro section begins &endash; 9 stages covering 982 km as they skirt Mount Kilimanjaro and continue through the beautifully lush east African landscape of Kenya and Tanzania. Rider's in the past have escaped the worst of Tanzania's rainy season, what will this year hold?


The setting was terrific; the roads were not so terrific. As the riders rode past Mount Kenya, on their way to Nanyuki, they dreamed of the paved roads ahead. Tomorrow they will cross the equator and creep closer to the halfway point of this epic race. Matthew Caretti, Geroge Oertel, Phillipa le Roux, and Joan Louwrens still dominate, but Urs Luethi came away with a stage win on stage 44.


Matthew Caretti of Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania had another stage win as riding conditions continue to test the stamina of the group. With an average speed of 23 km/h Matthew dealt with the constant jarring of the lava rock roads of the Dida Galgalu desert to add to his list of over 25 stage wins thus far. Both top females are still riding well, with Joan Louwrens and Phillipa le Roux crossing the line at 5 hours, and 25 minutes.


James Lockley, a South African residing in the UK, and Canadian Monty Orr celebrated their entry into Kenya by sharing a stage win; their first of this year's tour. As both are sitting in the middle of the pack, the stage wins are surely a nice reward for a hard day of riding. They did it on a very hot day that was full of hills and a steady headwind to complicate matters. Phillipa le Roux claimed yet another win; her third in a row.02.22.06 &endash; TWO NEW SECTION WINNERS

American Matthew Caretti had a very strong section; winning the Section Championship and overtaking George Oertel for the overall lead in the Tour d'Afrique. Phillipa le Roux wins in the women's category as she edges closer to Joan Louwrens who maintains the overall lead by a couple hours. It has been Phillipa's lifelong dream to cross Africa, and she's doing it at quite a high pace. Official results for the Gorge to be posted on the website shortly.

02.20.06 &endash; RIDERS CONQUER THE GORGE

Matthew Caretti finishes first in the Blue Nile Gorge stage amid construction on the Gorge road. He was followed by Urs Luethi who has been creeping up in the standings. Phillipa le Roux won the women's race covering the 22 km climb in 2 hours 2 minutes. Two more stages until the end of section two of the Tour d'Afrique which ends in Addis Ababa

South African John Lofty-Eaton gets his first stage win as the Tour enters Ethiopia. One more stage before the rider's rest in Gonder as they now climb into the highlands and edge closer to the infamous Blue Nile Gorge stage. Last year's top Canadian racer, David Houghton had this to say about the Gorge &endash; "It's known as the toughest day on the entire Tour d'Afrique. And this week we found out why. The earth seemed to drop away and the other side of the gorge was just a faint, misty ridge. The ride down is 19 km long, and descends 1300 meters. The ride up is 21 km long, and ascends nearly 1400 meters. The heat was in the mid-40s and the road was loose, bumpy gravel that was infuriatingly unpredictable. With the distance we climbed in the morning to get to the gorge, and the ascent, we climbed 2150 meters. To put that in perspective, we climbed over 2 km vertically."

VANCOUVER'S GERALDINE PAQUES WINS TOUR D-AFRIQUE STAGE 16 THROUGH RAGING DUST STORM . Canadians won both the men's and women's categories in stage 16, as Sam Bail of Toronto continued to ride strong sharing the men's title for the third straight day. Geraldine Paques got her first stage win on a day that was highlighted by the raging dust storm that racers were forced to ride through.

Tour d'Afrique, the annual 12 000-kilometer bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town, billed as the most gruelling bicycle race on earth, is in it's second week.

Cyclists are adjusting mentally and physically to the many new aspects that this cycling epic brings; new sleeping patterns, sleeping on the ground, different food and water, anti-malaria drugs, the daily strain of the effort required to cover the distance each day, sun stroke, dehydration, desert winds, dust, fluctuations in temperature from 10 to 37 degrees and… saddle sores a plenty!  But the rewards are priceless.

Travelling through 10 African countries in all, over 40 intrepid cyclists have already clocked up 1,400 km in 13 cycling days through Egypt and the Sudan and are taking a well earned rest day along the Nile River on the border of the Nubian and Sahara Deserts in the bustling, friendly town of Dongola.

Continued below ...


South African's Claim first section Championship

SPECIAL TO Africa Travel Magazine

The first section of the Tour d'Afrique is complete and South African's came out on top. George Oertel from Gauteng Province and Joan Louwrens of Cape Town were the champions. Official Section results will be posted on the Tour d'Afrique website after final tabulation and verification tomorrow. Here are the top three men and women in the Pharaoh's Delight....


1. Joan Louwrens, RSA

2. Phillipa le Roux, RSA

3. Christa Meier, SUI


1. George Oertel, RSA

2. Matthew Caretti, USA

3. Pieter van Rooyen, RSA

The race has been highly competitive and the standings are extremely close in comparison to previous years of the tour. There is not clear overall favourite yet. "Yesterday we had our first time trial of TDA 2006. It was an 18 km sprint, 30 second starting intervals and 36 participants, our biggest time trial ever. The fastest of the men was Canada's Sam Bail, at 20 min, 23 sec and for the women it was Joan Louwrens, at 23 min, 47 sec. The competition was high amongst all of these incredible athletes, but I'm amazed by the times of our winners." said Tour Leader and Race Coordinator Randy Pielsticker in conversation with our office earlier today.

Joining the Tour in Khartoum is Holland's Arnold van Dijk, who participated in last year's Tour d'Afrique but was forced to leave after suffering a broken hip. He is joining the Tour today determined to ride the sections he missed last year. The first of those being "The Gorge", which will present all new challenges for the riders. It starts with five riding days until they leave Sudan and enter Ethiopia; three days of blacktop and two on dirt. This is usually the hottest stretch of our tour. In the first two days in Ethiopia they will have to cross a section of the Simian Mountains. This will be the first real hill climbing stages of the tour. It will be interesting to see how the cyclists react to these new conditions.

Many of the riders have been pleasantly surprised by the generosity of the Sudanese people they have met. As leisure rider, and Montreal CANADA resident, Ayesha Harji puts it..."The tough weather and road conditions are tempered by the warmth and friendliness of the Sudanese people everywhere we go."

The Tour takes approximately 120 days to cross the African continent, of which 96 are cycling days. The cyclists cover an average distance of 125 km (75 miles) each day with a rest day every 5-6 days. 

CONTINUED: The paved roads through Egypt in the first week gave the cyclists the opportunity to settle into the nomadic lifestyle that will characterise their lives for the next four months and get some serious training in for the challenges of the 'roads' of Sudan. 

Canadian Sam Bail, the youngest cyclist on the Tour at 19, says of week two in the Sudan 'You ride the washboard hating it and then you hit the sand with relief. After struggling through the sand for a few kilometres you find yourself wishing you were riding the washboard again!'  

A gruelling 25 kilometre desert crossing on day 13 ended in a ferry crossing across the Nile into the Sahara desert with the highlight of the day being the ride into Dongola.  'On hitting the paved road 10 km's before Dongola &endash; I thought I was hallucinating! ' said Michael Heitz who is fast finding his 'sand legs'.

In these incredibly hot and thirsty conditions, Staminade, the official energy drink of the Tour, is their lifeline.

The largest, yet least visited country in Africa, Sudan is home to over 37 million people made up of more than 550 ethnic groups. In spite of their political problems and differences, hospitality and generosity is key amongst the Sudanese people. The cyclists are constantly invited into the simple, yet beautiful mud and stone homes for chai, coffee or a meal.

While the leisure riders soak up the culture in the villages, take photos and time to meet the people along the way, the competition amongst the racers is foreshadowing an incredible cycling event for this year. 

The South African riders are at the fore in both the male and female sections, with George Oertel and Joan Louwrens in first positions, and Pieter van Rooyen and Phillipa Le Roux in second positions.

Race Results:

12 days - 1,336 kms

Male Riders

George Oertel - South African - 43:41:12

Pieter Van Rooyen- South African - 44:40:12

Matthew Caretti - American - 44:58:13

Race Results:  Female Riders

Joan Louwrens - South African &endash; 50:36

Phillipa Le Roux - South African &endash; 58:11

Christa Meier- Swiss- 59:34-




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