Racism Challenges At The Tour de France: Cycling's Complex Struggle

Racism Challenges At The Tour de France: Cycling’s Complex Struggle

The breakaway’s nuanced communication is embodied in wheel disappearances and elbow flicks. In bike racing, speaking normally doesn’t matter all that much. In addition to stating that the team had a strong anti-racism policy, Orica manager Shane Bannon expressed his belief in Albasini, echoing Bernaudeau’s declaration of faith in his rider. Racism’s collective stance is that it is not acceptable. We adhere to it as the team’s stance, Bannon stated. “What Albasini has shown us, we do believe.” We reiterate that racial insults and remarks are unacceptable and do not reflect who we are as a team, even though we do think that there may have been some misinterpretation.

Anti-Black Sentiment And Racism

Since the Tour de France’s start in 1903, there have been accusations of doping. The early Tour cyclists dulled the discomfort of endurance cycling competitions using a variety of medications, including alcohol and ether. Not a single Black African rider is competing in the Tour de France this year. 

The only cyclists from Africa are South Africans Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Louis Meintjes, both of whom are renowned multi-year competitors. On the other hand, the rapid ascent of young Eritrean cyclists like as Natnael Tesfatsion on Drone Hopper Androni Giocattoli, Henok Mulubrhan on Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, and Biniam Girmay (a teammate of Louis Meintjes) on Intermarché Wanty Gobert Matériaux, suggests otherwise. 

Taking place in Asmara a few weekends ago, the Eritrean National Championships was one of the year’s most active cycling events. In that little nation on the horn of Africa, the talent was literally a who’s who of emerging and established artists.

A Minor Representation of Cyclists of Color

Recent headlines and social media discussion around an article in Cycling Weekly including Nicholas Dlamini’s open letter on his experience in the 2021 Tour de France suggest that racism is a major factor in the underrepresentation of Black riders in this year’s competition. Our experience working with Black African bikers since 2007 suggests that this is a simplistic approach to a complex problem. The purpose of Team Africa Rising is to declare and condemn the discriminatory acts committed against Black African employees and riders. The squad has seen other cyclists in the race make racist remarks at riders. Some eateries have declined to serve customers. 

It is a fact that some fans are rude and ignorant. These things do occur. However, this is not the only explanation for the difficulties in showcasing elite African cyclists on the international scene. Racism is a social issue rather than a characteristic of riding.

Absence of Advancement

During the Tour de France, spoke with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Louis Meintjes to gather their opinions on the difficulties faced by African cyclists. Biniam Grimay’s teammate is Louis. With a silver medal in the UCI World Championships in Flanders, Belgium, in 2021, Biniam began his meteoric ascent up the world tour levels. 

Subsequently, he became victorious in Gent-Wevelgem, becoming the inaugural Black African to win a spring classic. Prior to being prevented from competing by a misplaced champagne cork, he made history last month by becoming the first Black African to win a stage at the Giro d’Italia. Team Africa Rising has firsthand knowledge of stringent visa requirements. Four Rwandans, two Eritreans, and one Ethiopian have applied for asylum after spending a great deal of time obtaining visas and landing in their new nation.

The Lack of Competitive Racing

The absence of competitive, high-caliber racing was another reason brought up by a number of respondents, including South Africans. Numerous media sources have promoted the idea that there aren’t enough races in Africa or that invitations to the UCI schedule’s races aren’t sent out. There has to be an ongoing anti-racist message and teaching in riding. Promoting anti-racism in cycling entails launching a protracted fight to end the brutality of racist actions that aim to oppress and weaken people, mostly Black people. Reza emphasizes how global athletes like Lewis Hamilton are working to bring about good change and how action, not just words, must be forthcoming in the sports industry.


Speaking in his native French, Kevin Reza, the only rider of African descent to compete in the Tour de France last year, urges the UCI, the organization that oversees cycling, to treat racism allegations with the same rigor as doping cases. In sports, the problem of inclusiveness and diversity is not exclusive to cycling. The fact that riders like Reza are forced to find their voice from inside the minority is one sign of progress, though, ten years after Yohann Gene became the first black rider at the Tour de France.



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