The Bicycle Horn of Africa: How cycling became a part of Eritrea’s national identity

In Asmara, the Eritrean capital, cyclists race through the streets at the inaugural Africa Cup. Cycling is the biggest sport in this Horn of Africa nation.

Geoffrey York/The Globe and Mail

It’s racing day in Asmara, and the whole city has come out to watch: lining the streets, packing the grandstands, expertly studying the cyclists as they whoosh past, wildly cheering the front-running Eritreans and sportingly encouraging the lagging Nigerians.

This is the launch of the Africa Cup, a new cycling championship, but it’s nothing at all unusual here. Cycling races are held almost every weekend in Eritrea. Police block cars from the streets and whip any disorderly youths who cross the barriers, but for most people the excitement outweighs the inconvenience.

Cycling is the biggest sport in…

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