Natnael Berhane put in a magnificent performance to win the Eritrean national road race championships this morning.
In what would be a hotly contested race with a field of around 150 starters. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung lined up with Natnael Berhane, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus all eager to make a challenge for the coveted national jersey.
Riders would take on 196km around Asmara and there would be an early attack of 4 riders, including Natnael, Meron Teshome, Metkel Eyob (WCCA MTN-Qhubeka) and one other local rider. The quartet went clear inside the first 15km of racing and few would have given them much hope of staying clear of the strong field. Natnael had other ideas though.
With Merhawi and Daniel marking the countless attacks coming from the field, Natnael was able to drive the lead out to a maximum advantage of 4 minutes. The attacks did not stop though and with 50 kilometers to go 7 riders, including Merhawi and Daniel would bridge to the 4 leaders. Almost immediately Natnael attacked the new lead group and he would not be seen again.
A number of counter attacks came from the chasers but with Daniel and Merhawi marking each move, Natnael was able to open his gap to just over a minute and then held his advantage to the line in what would be a sterling performance. Massive credit must also go to Daniel and Merhawi for being the perfect teammates today.
Tesfom Okubamariam (WCCA MTN-Qhubeka) would finish 2nd and local rider Amanuel Gebreigzabhier claimed 3rd place.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was a very good performance from the guys today. It was a flat race so we had to make the racing really tough. Berhane was already in the break by 20km and he made it to the end. Everybody was looking at us today but with good team work and a good strategy we were able to win the jersey. I was really impressed with the number of crazy Eritrean cycling fans here in Eritrea, it was great to see.