The winner of the 2nd ECOWAS International Cycling Tour, Burkinabe Rasmane Quedraogo said he owed to God and his teammates, his victory in the gruelling four-stage race across five countries.
With a cumulative 104 points, Quedraogo, 24, emerged the overall winner of the tour covering 450 km from Lagos to Abidjan.
He told journalists after the race in Abidjan that the event went beyond a mere race because his compatriots at home would have accepted nothing less.
“The country invested so much in me. I have been in Switzerland training not just for this event but for other competitions. For us in Burkina Faso, cycling is like a religion,” he said.
Quedraogo said they tried to size up other country’s riding skills and devised a means to counter them.
“I must say that our team spirit saw us through. We were there for each other. For me, good team spirit did it for us.
“The tour was tough and competitive. We knew we would encounter obstacles like bad roads and strong winds but that propelled us to go all out,” he said.
Two other Burkinabes, Seydou Bamogo and Oumarou Minoungou, helped to ensure that Burkina Faso dominated the top three spots.
Bamogo, winner of the first stage from Lagos to Cotonou, notched up 94 points to come second, while Minougou posted 86 points for the third position.
The closest Nigerian to the top was Caleb Kalazibe, who had a cumulative 27 points to claim the 13th spot.
Other Nigerians, Qodiri Ajibade, with 19 points placed 16th, and Samuel Eyo, who garnered four points, came in 29th.
In the general classification, Burkina Faso was also placed ahead of the others, followed by Cote d’Ivoire in second and Senegal in third place.
Ghana and Mali were fourth and fifth, while Nigeria clinched the sixth position.
Some 66 cyclists started the race but only 49 completed it. While some were disqualified, a few took ill and pulled out of the race.