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Nicholas White, here winning a race in Europe earlier in his career, has taken the overall title in the Africa Tour
South Africa's Nicholas White, leader of the South African based MTN team, secured the UCI Africa...
South Africa's Nicholas White, leader of the South African based MTN team, secured the UCI Africa Tour title after building up an unassailable lead at the Tour of Morocco. There are two events left to race.
Although White placed sixth in the strong field in Morocco, his victory in the penultimate stage of the 10-day tour, which started and finished in the capital of Casablanca, was enough to secure the prestigious white jersey and title of most consistent rider in Africa for 2007/2008.
Russian Alexey Shchebelin (Cinelli OPD) was the overall winner at the Tour of Morocco, followed by Amore & Vita's Slawomie Kohut, two minutes and 40 seconds down. South African road champion Ian McLeod, a former professional on the Française des Jeux ProTour team, came in third at four minutes 20 seconds.
White won the 2007 edition of the Tour of Morocco, but while his team failed to retain his individual title, they left satisfied – four stage wins, third, fourth and sixth overall and sprinter ace Malcolm Lange rode away with the points jersey, after winning three stages.
But the main prize for White and his team was sealing the win in the Africa Tour, a continental series comprising 25 events in various African countries and running from October through to the following September.
White started his assault on the 2007/2008 Africa Tour with maximum points when he won the Continental road and time trial titles in Cameroon last November.
He then finished fourth at the Tour of Gabon in January and collected more valuable points at the Intaka Tech World's View Challenge races in February. He scored third place behind Manuel Quinziato of Liquigas in the opening race, then added a few more points at the South African Road Championships in May.
"It would have been better if I'd been able to defend my Tour of Morocco title, but I wasn't at peak form coming into the race following a bit of illness leading up the event," explained White. "I really suffered on the third stage and lost time which I was just never able to make up in this quality field.
"Our main goal was to ensure I maintained my lead in the Africa Tour, which I did and that's important for our team and our main sponsor, MTN, which has a large presence in Africa," added White.
The Eritreans also kept the flag flying high for the Africans in the Tour of Morocco with impressive performances from Dawit Haile, Daniel Teklehaymanot, Ghebrehiwet Merhawi and Frekalasi Debesay.
The UCI's Head of National Federations Relations, Dominique Raymond, was present for the final stage and met with the newly-elected members of the Royal Cycling Federation of Morocco as well as the teams from Eritrea, Senegal, Libya and Algeria.
She was also informed of a humanitarian action undertaken during the Tour of Morocco by the official transport sponsor, KIA: They donated 60 bikes to school children, who travel 10 to 15 kilometres to get to school, in the aim to encourage them to continue their education.