Tour of Eritrea

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Tour of Eritrea
Cyclists competing in the Tour of Eritrea in Asmara, Eritrea.
Race details
Date April 11 to April 24 (2008)
Region Eritrea
English name Tour of Eritrea
Local name(s) ዙር ኤርትራ (Tigrinya)
Discipline Road race
Type Multi-stage
Organiser Eritrean National Cycling Federation
Race director Aklilu Lijam
First edition 1946 (1946)
Editions 10
First winner Nunzio Barilà
Most wins

Eritrea Habte Weldesimon

3 times
Most recent  Mekseb Debesay (ERI)

The Tour of Eritrea (Tigrinya: ዙር ኤርትራ?, Italian: Giro d'Eritrea) is a multistage bicycle race held annually throughout Eritrea.


The first race was staged in 1946. It was promoted by the Italian community of Eritrea with the Italian name Primo Giro dell'Eritrea.[1] It inaugual Tour of Eritrea had 34 participants and was won by Nunzio Barilà of the team A.C. Piemonte.[2] It had five stages, with a very difficult Premio della Montagna (Stage of the Mountain).

In 1947, the second Giro dell'Eritrea was not allowed because of political reasons related to a growing guerrilla war in British occupied Eritrea. However, a smaller Giro/Tour was held in its place called the Giro delle 3 Valli ("Tour of the 3 Valleys"). It was won by Esmiles Zoli.

In 2001, after a fifty-year-long hiatus, the Tour was resurrected as celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Eritrean independence. It was won by Habte Weldesimon, who repeated his victory in 2003 and 2004.

Merhawi Ghebrehiwot won both the 2007 and 2008 Tours. In 2009 the tour of Eritrea was recongnaized by the UCI for the first time .It was given a 2.2 HC and included 5 stage. The winner was Meron Russom and Bereket Yemane got the jersey awarded for the best climber [3] As of 2014, the latest tour was held in 2013 and was won by Mekseb Abrha Debesay.[4]

2008 results

Podium of the 2008 edition:

  1. Merhawi Ghebrehiwot (team EriTel) with 47.00 points
  2. Dawit Haile (team Asbeco) with 40.00 points
  3. Frekalsi Debesay with 37.00 points

The last stage (in Asmara, done April 20) was won by Domenico Vaccaro, an Italian Eritrean, of the team Medeber.[5]


The Tour's route has changed since the colonial period. It consists today of a 700-mile race contended in 10 stages.[6] The race covers various geographic regions, including the desert lowlands, the chilly highlands and windy coast.[7]

The Tour of Eritrea of 2008 was a bicycle race from the hot desert beaches of Massawa, up the winding mountain highway with its precipitous valleys and cliffs to the capital Asmara. From there, it continued downwards onto the western plains of the Gash-Barka Region, only to return to Asmara from the south.

This is, by far, the most popular sport in modern Eritrea, followed by many thousands of fans and with nearly 100 professional Eritrean cyclists. Indeed, the Tour of Eritrea is followed enthusiastically by the Eritrean population around the roads, like happens in the Tour de France of France and the Giro d'Italia of Italy.


During the Tour, the previous stage's winner is awarded a blue jersey in recognition of their achievement.[8] A red jersey is awarded to those who win the climbing contest while the yellow jersey is worn by the overall Tour leader.[9]

Tour winners

Rider Team
1946 Italy Barilà, NunzioNunzio Barilà (ITA)
No race
2001 Eritrea Weldesimon, HabteHabte Weldesimon (ERI)
2002 Eritrea Tekle, MichaelMichael Tekle (ERI)
2003 Eritrea Weldesimon, HabteHabte Weldesimon (ERI)
2004 Eritrea Weldesimon, HabteHabte Weldesimon (ERI)
2005 Eritrea Teku, MichaelMichael Teku (ERI)
2006 Eritrea Misgane, MichaelMichael Misgane (ERI)
2007 Eritrea Gebrehiwet, MerhawiMerhawi Gebrehiwet (ERI)
2008 Eritrea Gebrehiwet, MerhawiMerhawi Gebrehiwet (ERI)
2009 Eritrea Yemane, BereketBereket Yemane (ERI) Eritrea national team
2010 Eritrea Berhane, NatnaelNatnael Berhane (ERI) Eritrea national team
2011 Eritrea Russom, MeronMeron Russom (ERI) Eritrea national team
2012 South Africa Janse van Rensburg, JacquesJacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) MTN–Qhubeka
2013 Eritrea Debesay, MeksebMekseb Debesay (ERI) Eritrea national team


  1. The first Tour of Eritrea/Giro d'Eritrea of 1946 (in Italian)
  3. Information about the 2008 Tour of Eritrea
  4. "Tour of Eritrea 2013". CyclingFever. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  6. Rice, Xan (2006-07-30). "Riders on the sandstorm". London: The Observer. Retrieved 2006-12-19. 
  7. "Corso, a Life Line of Asmarino Youths". Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2006-12-19. 
  8. Andemichael, Daniel (2007-02-14). "Abraham Belay Dons Blue Jersey as He Sets a New Record in Winning Latest Stage" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-02-14. [dead link]
  9. "Summary of Tour De Eritrea: EriTel wins Fifth Consecutive Victory". Retrieved 2007-03-12. [dead link]

See also