Giro D'Eritrea    Football is the king of sports in Africa, but in a remote and unknown land there is a cycling-obsessed nation. Although firmly attached to the Horn of Africa, Eritrea may as well be an island. The rare foreign visitor may find Asmara, the Eritrean capital depressing and depressed, with a heavy-handed government and an ongoing border dispute with neighbour EthiopĂ­a. But if you visit this small area of the African continent you will also notice another thing: bicycles. Everywhere you go there are people on bicycles; from old men in suits pedalling lazily through the capital on heavy old machines, to youngsters on cheap "Snow Lion" mountain bikes. But it is the obsession with racing that is most remarkable. Where else in Africa are the Tour de France and the Giro D'Italia shown live on state television? In Asmara alone, there are more than 800 registered competitive riders. Weekend races through the capital attract thousands of paying spectators and the top teams have their own fan clubs. Eritrea's top cyclists are the country's most recognisable sporting stars.
Like the Catholic cathedrals and the taste for cappuccinos, the passion for cycling is a legacy of Italian colonial rule. The first Giro d'Eritrea, was staged in 1946. No local riders were allowed to enter. In 2001, eight years after independence from Ethiopia, the Giro was resurrected and the 10- stage, 1200 kilometer race is now the highlight of the local sporting calendar. Out of 97 riders, all but one were Eritrean. With a police outrider clearing the way, the riders swept past villagers and soldiers who lined the streets shouting "Forza!" and "Bravo!" To be a top international cyclist you should be slim with muscles. Eritreans don't have much muscle. But probably there's no other cycling loving nation in the workd.

2001 Habte Weldesimon
2002 Michael Tekle
2003 Habte Weldesimon
2004 Habte Weldesimon
2005 Michael Teku
2006 Michael Misgane
2007 Merhawi Ghebrehiwot
2008 Merhawi Ghebrehiwot