African cycling and the sport in general is mourning the tragic loss of the young rider Desiet Kidane. Details are still emerging but initial reports state that she was killed after being struck by a driver while training in Asmara in Eritrea on Monday.
The 21-year-old Eritrean rider was part of the UCI’s World Cycling Centre programme and both the governing body and the WCC paid tribute to her on Tuesday morning.
"With her constant smile, kindness, respect and deep passion for cycling, Desiet Kidane Tekeste was a rising young talent who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and teammates and coaches during this tragic time," the UCI said via its social media channels.
Kidane showed her talent in 2018 with a number of strong results as a junior rider. She won both the road race and time trial at the African Continental Championship in Kigali in Rwanda, and then later that year placed 22nd in the road race and 28th in the time trial at the world championships in Innsbruck, Austria. She went on to ride the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina and finished 11th.
Those results helped strengthen links with the UCI’s World Cycling Centre team and she competed with the set-up in 2019, with the programme helping her gain important experience in her first year as a senior rider.
She was 11th in the youth classification at the Festival Elsy Jacobs stage race and 19th on a stage of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas, as well as clocking up victory in the Eritrean national time trial championships and silver medals in the road race.
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted her 2020 season but Kidane was back with the World Cycling Centre this year, riding a number of events in Belgium and France. These included placings of 18th in the La Périgord Ladies and La Choralis Fourmies Féminine in France, as well as participation in the world championships road race.
In a 2018 interview with the Eritrean media outlet Tesfa News (opens in new tab), Kidane enthused about the chance to ride with the UCI World Cycling Centre team.
“After my competitions in Rwanda [at the African Continental Championships – ed.], I was fortunate to be selected to get the UCI training to become a professional athlete. It is a wonderful opportunity. We are trained and get to participate at numerous games and tours in Europe every week. The training is tough and you get to race against hundreds of contestants, which have both upgraded my skills as a contestant.
“We have many young Eritrean cyclists who are skilled enough to make it to the professional level. I wish they would get the UCI opportunities like I did, it would help boost their talents.
“I have always had the dream to be a professional cyclist next to Mossana Debesai, and want the number of Eritrean female professional cyclists to rise. We have the skills and passion. Most of all, we are competitive. I don’t think there is anything that can stop us from reaching that goal.”
Like those in Eritrea who knew Kidane, the UCI is also reeling with the news. A spokesperson said on Tuesday that "this is an absolute tragedy and here we are absolutely shocked."
UCI president David Lappartient and the governing body’s director general both expressed their own feelings on Twitter.
Cyclingnews expresses its condolences to Kidane’s family, friends and teammates at this sad time.
My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Desiet Kidane Tekeste from Eritrea. At only 21 years old, Desiet had a bright cycling career ahead, with her talent, commitment and passion making her a promising star within the @WCC_Cycling team. pic.twitter.com/F6YBgJqIVWNovember 9, 2021
Desiet 💙 With her constant smile, kindness, respect and deep passion for cycling, Desiet Kidane Tekeste 🇪🇷 was a rising young talent who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and @WCC_Cycling teammates and coaches during this tragic time. pic.twitter.com/6xve9QDV6iNovember 9, 2021
Such a tragic loss. On behalf of everyone at the UCI and @WCC_Cycling, our hearts go out to Desiet’s family and close ones during this tragic moment in time. Her passion, kindness and immense talent are major losses to the whole cycling community. pic.twitter.com/KqxrflkoM2November 9, 2021
Desiet Kidane Tekeste 💙Words can’t express our sadness to hear of the passing of 21 year old UCI WCC athlete, Desiet Kidane Tekeste from Eritrea.We will miss you Desiet. pic.twitter.com/eX9McDPQ69November 9, 2021
The world first saw this amazingly talented young cyclist Desiet Kidane from #Eritrea at the @afroroadchamps in #Rwanda in 2018. She took 🥇in the Road and ITT races as a junior. Her future was so bright spending time at @WCC_cycling now tragically cut short #RIP #gonetoosoon pic.twitter.com/KwIwmOwNExNovember 9, 2021
We lost a beautiful soul and an amazingly talented cyclist today. Desiet Kidane we will miss your smile and your competitive spirit. You were an inspiration to #African women cyclists throughout the continent #thisgirlrides #RIP #gonetoosoon #inspiration https://t.co/LUfTQrOtPeNovember 9, 2021
We've lost #DesietKidane & her BIGDream today. On 8th Nov 2021, #Eritrean professional cyclist & @UCI_cycling trainee, winner of African Gold-Silver medals, Desiet Kidane has passed away in a car accident, age 21.It is just Unbelievable SadNews.@CyclingAfrica @Cyclingnewsfeed pic.twitter.com/S4wEHgGep4November 9, 2021
You represented Eritrea and it's flag at the young age with a smile & pride. Too soon to lose you but you will be in our heart for generation to come & your beautiful smile will stay with us. Rest in Peace my sister. #DesietKidane pic.twitter.com/6O3L3pfkoxNovember 9, 2021
We are devastated by the sad news of Desiet Kidane😔Nazaan Cycling passes a sincere condolences to her family and the entire Cycling family, MAY HER BEAUTIFUL SOUL REST IN PEACE.The management. https://t.co/p9zI8mV1mhNovember 9, 2021
I can’t believe it’s so early Desiet ( 20) What a bad news. I can't believe it. Life is unpredictable. I can't handle this disaster news. May her soul rest in peace with God. Desiet got hit by a car during her training yesterday. @WCC_cycling pic.twitter.com/tnoJkflhWONovember 9, 2021
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