Road

African stage race still on schedule

Organizers said Friday that they are still finalizing the route of the fifth edition of the Amissa Bongo Tropical, slated for January 19 to 24 in the west central African country of Gabon. "We expect to finalize the route by the end of the month,” the organizers said in a statement. “We are considering routes through the Haut-Ogooué, Moyen-Ogooué and Woleu-Ntem and a finish in (the capital of) Libreville."

The 2009 Amissa Bongo Tropical in January attracted large crowds. The UCI says this and other races globalize the sport.

The 2009 Amissa Bongo Tropical in January attracted large crowds. The UCI says this and other races globalize the sport.

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Organizers said Friday that they are still finalizing the route of the fifth edition of the Amissa Bongo Tropical, slated for January 19 to 24 in the west central African country of Gabon.

“We expect to finalize the route by the end of the month,” the organizers said in a statement. “We are considering routes through the Haut-Ogooué, Moyen-Ogooué and Woleu-Ntem and a finish in (the capital of) Libreville.”

The delay, noted organizers, has been prompted by difficulty finding adequate roads to serve the event in a country often plagued by problems in infrastructure. The problems, however, will not affect the planned January 19 start.

“We expect to have another successful edition of the race, no matter what,” noted the statement.

Past editions of the race, which serves as Gabon’s national tour, have been held in the Haut-Ogooué in the eastern portion of Gabon and the northern province of Woleu-Ntem, but organizers hope to include stages in the central province of Moyen-Ogooué. Moyen-Ogooué’s major city of Lambaréné is perhaps best known for the hospital built and operated by the late Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

The race is a UCI continental event and part of the governing body’s effort to globalize the sport.

The race is generally contested by national teams from around Africa, but has also attracted several European teams in the past, with Francaise des Jeux and Bbox Telecom sending riders to race in the former French colony.

Francaise des Jeux’s Matthieu Ladagnous won the six-stage race in 2009, beating Filipe Cardoso from the now-defunct Liberty-Seguros team by four seconds.

The race was established in 2006, named after a daughter of the country’s late president Omar Bongo.