President of Cycling Federation of Nigeria (CFN), Engr. Giandomenico Massari has lauded the performance of Team Nigeria at the just concluded Giro Marche Cycling Tour for elite women, in Italy, saying the girls performed beyond expectations.
The 3-stage tour of the rugged Italian countryside was capped last Saturday by an invitational Individual Time Trial at which the Nigeria girls demonstrated competence, with all five participants returning among top 10 finishers.
Rosemary Marcus led the Nigeria team, returning in 4th place in 25.16 minutes, two minutes shy of Italy’s Fidanza Arianna, who won the race.
ESE Ukpeseraye, Kpa Tombrapa, Glory Odiase and Adejoke Durogbade respectively returned 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th in the 20- man contest.
In the tour proper, the Nigerian girls who touched down in Port Harcourt at the weekend, gave a good account of themselves in all three stages and despite the tough, steep Italian terrains where the race took place.
According to Massari 18 teams from 22 countries participated in the tour with Nigeria, Russia and highly ratee Kazakhstan being the only three national teams in the race.
Engr Massari who showered praises on the girls said team performed exceedingly well despite the tough terrain and high grade opposition.
Aside Kazakhstan which is rated top in the world, there was also an Olympic bronze medalist, a world track cycling gold medalist and other top rated clubs that featured in the 102km, 92 km and 84 km tour.
“At the end, everybody praised our team and as result we were invited to participated in the Individual Time- Trial race, where we also did very well. Of the 20 participants, the most favorite to win the world championship beat our girl by just 2 minutes”, observed the CFN President.
He noted therefore that all that is required is to continually train and expose the athletes to compete with the best.
Beyond the field performance, he said that the event was a huge publicity boost to the image of the country.
“Beyond the performance, that we were there to represent our country gives a different perspective of the Nigerian people; that Nigerians are good people and that we can complete with others in a polite, friendly and clean way. In fact everybody was crazy about us, about our kits, many wore our riding vest, and they love the design. It was not about us as individuals but Nigeria.”
“To me the team performed beyond expectations for a week we were the toast of television stations and international newspapers, you cannot quantify that. Unfortunately cooperate Nigeria do not believe in cycling and potential it has. Even a bank that was supposed to be part of the tour pulled at the last minute . You cannot quantify what that expose would mean for the bank”, the Italian- Nigerian citizen said.
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