MTN-Qhubeka Utah blog: An Ethiopian in America

We’ve been in America for almost a week now. The travel has been really long as I was home in Ethiopia and flew to Italy to meet up with the rest of the team before flying to America. We’ve been in Chicago for the Tour of Elk Grove the past few days and so far I really like the country. Everything really is bigger and better here like they say. It’s a big country and much as you expect or like you see on TV. The people have been great so far. We’ve felt very welcomed here which is nice because for most of the team it is the first time we’ve been here.

We spent three days racing in Elk Grove but the racing was flat so it really wasn’t suited to most of the team we have here, but it was good nonetheless. We’re here with Kristian Sbaragli our sprinter and he got a couple of top tens on the road stages so it was fun for us climbers mixing it up in the sprints and setting him up. Good preparation for the Tour of Utah I’d say. I am ready for the race as my feeling is really good. The race will have some hard climbs, which will be good for us, and I am looking forward to racing against the WorldTour teams, which are starting. I hope for myself that I will have a good performance.

It was great to be in my Ethiopian champion kit for the first time. Everyone kept stopping me and asking me which country’s flag is on my back. It’s nice to show the world our flag. They don’t really know where the country is but they do know about the good marathon runners we have. I am glad cycling is growing in Ethiopia so we can promote the country more and not just be famous for our runners. I really hope to give our country something to cheer about this week. Let’s see how it will go.

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The first truly African professional continental team will compete in North America for the first time, and take part in the Tour of Utah from August 6-11, 2013, bringing an international flair to the UCI 2.1-ranked race. The team celebrated its first WorldTour victory in March with the Milan-San Remo win by Gerald Ciolek, and will be looking to make a big splash in America.

South Africans Jacques Janse van Renseburg, Louis Meintjes, Martin Wesemann and Songezo Jim will be joined by Meron Russom of Eritrea, Tsgabu Grmay of Ethiopia, Algerian Youcef Reguigui and Italian Kristian Sbaragli for the race, and will share their experiences with Cyclingnews.