Daniel Teklehaimanot Girmazion
Type of Rider: Allrounder
Biggest Achievement: 6th in Tour de l´Avenir 2009
Team/Club 2010: Centre Mondial du Cyclisme
Team 2011: not known yet
Best Mock List Rank: new
The key moment of Daniel Teklehaimanot´s career were the African Championships 2008 in Casablanca (Maroc). Had it not been for Michel Thèze, former coach of the French Amateur selection and now coach of the Centre Mondial du Cyclisme (CMC) in Aigle (Switzerland), who was present, Teklehaimanot may still be racing only on the African continent. But as it happened, with Top Ten places in both time trial and road race (and also the Under 23 Time Trial title) the then 19-year-old Eritrean impressed Thèze and the Frenchman decided to bring Teklehaimanot to Europe to join CMC.
The CMC is – in my humble opinion – one of only a few useful innovations by the UCI. In week-long or even year-long workshops talented riders of cycling´s developing countries live and train together in Aigle near Lake Geneva and take part in races no riders from South Korea, Peru or Eritrea could else hope to participate in. Together with compatriot Merhawi Gebrehiwet, who soon disappeared to Scandinavia without a trace, Teklehaimanot arrived in Aigle.
Cycling is quite popular in Eritrea, it even has more followers than athletics (this is maybe an inheritance of former colonial rulers Italy and a try to contrast enemy Ethiopia) and the Tour of Eritrea has been listed as an UCI race for some years now. The national cycling Championships are even broadcast live on TV. Little Daniel, one of eleven children of a peasant family, received his first bike at age 12 and only 6 years later reached Top 10 in both road race and time trial of the African Championships. 2008 he is also Eritrean Champion for the first time and gets a stagiaire contract with Amore & Vita, but never once races for the team.
The arrival in Europe is a shock for Teklehaimanot, he doesn´t like the cold weather and always races in long-sleeve jerseys. The next shock: in a routine medical check-up a severe heart problem is diagnosed, the young career, that hadn´t even started yet, is at risk. But the following operation is successful, and soon Teklehaimanot is back on the bike. With team CMC the Eritrean took part mainly in Swiss and French races, where the tall rider (1,88 m at 73 kilos) could show his strength in the mountains and won some races. His first race at the Nations Cup in Canada was satisfying, with a top ten place in the time trial. The big suprise came in the Tour de l´Avenir, where he could keep with the best in the Vosges and with a strong time trial at the end of the Tour secured a brilliant 6th place overall.
Teklehaimanot returned to Switzerland in 2010 after – as was heard – he enjoyed too much of a sweet life in Eritrea. In Europe he had a tough racing programme, Nations Cup races in Portugal, Belgium and Italy, and also local races. At the time trial of the GP Portugal (2.NCup) in March he convinced with a 5th place. Even on the unfamiliar terrain of Flanders Teklehaimanot proved himself and reached the finish of the Under 23 Ronde. His biggest success came in Canada: at the Nations Cup Tour in Saguenay (2.NCup) Teklehaimanot not only won the second stage from a breakaway group, but also secured the leaders-, point- and mountain-jerseys and also the team lead for the UCI selection. On the very next day the young Eritrean cracked and finished third-to-last with a 16 minute deficit to stage winner Johan le Bon.
While his youthful recklessness may be both a strength and a hindrance to achieve bigger successes, a rider who despite being a good time-trialist also goes on the attack in stage races is an asset for every tour. And may as well be for any team. Cervélo has reacted and given the Eritrean a stagiaire contract as well as a contract for 2011, that is now void because the team folded. But it is only a question of time before another team succumbs to the charm of the Eritrean. Even for publicity reasons: Teklehaimanot may be the first truly competitive sub-Saharan African rider.
Nominated by wagenge & gardener, written by gardener , translated by bugno