Burkina supremacy, established with the victories of Abdul Wahab Sawadogo in 2004 and Jérémie Ouedraogo in 2005, will be severely challenged this year, for the 20th edition of the Tour du Faso which runs from Wednesday, October 25 to Sunday, November 5. In order to retain their position, and achieve the much desired third victory in a row, they must counter fierce opposition from the other African countries present. Even with three teams competing in the race, the Burkina leaders, Sawadogo, Ouedraogo and Rouamba, who represented their country for the first time in the Salzburg World Championships, will have to pool their resources for the national cause.
The Cameroons, who last year upset the standings, will be back with big ambitions - Martinien Tega and Joseph Sanda, brief holders of the yellow jersey in 2005, are riders to be watched. The Senegal with Malick Thiam, best young rider in 2004, and Abdoulaye Thiam, winner of the super combativity award in 2005, will be eager to seize their first stage victory, maybe more. And the Angola team, winners of two stages in 2004 and the white jersey in 2005, will be keen on continuing along the same lines.
Competition from riders back on the Tour after an absence could prove particularly dangerous. Following the withdrawal of the VC Roubaix team, a place was made available for the national team of Morocco. The Burkina riders are already troubled at the idea of competing with their leader, Abdelati Saadoune, winner of the 2002 Tour. The Egyptians, who won the Tour in 1999, will also be present this year. Zimbabwe, a newcomer on the Tour, is an unknown quantity but the team’s sporting manager, Roger De Vlaeminck, incidentally triple winner of Paris-Roubaix (1972-74-75), doesn’t often make a trip without an objective in mind.
The 13 African teams present in Burkina must also contend with the European teams competing. Among the Belgian riders, the multiple stage winners David Verdonck, Karel Pattyn and Christof Roosen, are all capable of victory. The same goes for the line-up from Brittany, which notably includes two members of the Continental team Bretagne Jean Floc’h, Stéphane Bonsergent and Jean-Luc Deplech. Japan, present for the third time on the Tour du Faso, will be hoping for success too.
The 18 teams competing in Burkina Faso will be: Angola, Belgium, Brittany, Burkina Faso (A, B, C), Cameroons, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Gabon, Japan, Mali, Morocco, Sarthe, Senegal, Yvelines, Zimbabwe and a mixed team from Benin, Niger and Togo.