After receiving disappointing news of its exclusion from this year’s Giro d’Italia, Ferekalsi Debesay changed the team’s fortunes when he took the first victory of the season in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo on Thursday. The Eritrean rider was part of an escape group that survived the day and outfoxed his rivals at the finish.
The move formed part of the team’s strategy to place a rider in the breakaway every day. Linus Gerdemann and Adrien Niyonshuti made the opening day’s escape while Songezo Jim went on the offensive during stage two and three.
Stage 4 was the longest stage of the race over 190 kilometres from Lambarene To Mouila.
“We had a really good group in the breakaway and in the last hour it looked like we were going to stay away,” a smiling Debesay said after coming off the podium. “I started thinking about the finish and didn’t want to wait for the sprint. I attacked with 2 kilometres to go and stayed away. I’m really happy for myself and for the team.”
Sports director Kevin Campbell expressed his praise for Debesay: “We knew he could do it despite being with good riders in the break. He is a natural racer and has great instincts during a race. He was hungry for success here and this isn’t a surprise at all. We knew a break would stay away eventually and we’ve put a rider there for this very reason. I’m really happy for him,” Campbell concluded.
The overall standings remained the same with Gerdemann holding onto his fourth place in the classification. He trails yellow jersey Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) by sixteen seconds with three days left to race.