The competition was launched yesterday in a grandiose ceremony in Douala presided by the Sports Minister.
The 20th edition of the Grand Prix International Chantal Biya will kick off today with a criterium in Douala with ten teams from Europe and Africa taking part. Presiding at the launch of the race at the campus of IUG-Douala, the main sponsor of the event, the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, said the fact that the launching was taking place in an academic milieu is proof of the marriage between sports and education, " a healthy body in a healthy mind", he said. He said the hosting of the competition serves as a rehearsal for the organisation of sports events especially with the upcoming African Nations Championship and Africa Cup of Nations due to take place in Cameroon. He said sports is a factor of living together and the international rayonnance of the country.
The president of the Cameroon cycling federation, Honore Yossi, said the race is taking place this year within a context marked by the coronavirus pandemic which has caused competitions in the federation to be cancelled or postponed for eight months, hence depriving Cameroonian cyclists of preparing well for the competition. He said a special medical team is on standby for Covid-19 testing and treatment and recommended the strict respect for barrier measures enacted by UCI and the government. He disclosed that for the very first time there will be a lap of the race dedicated to women cyclists in Cameroon.
The CEO of IUG, Louis Marie Djambou, said this edition of the race is a memorable and historic event not only for his institution but also for the city of Douala and expressed gratitude to government for awarding scholarships to students of the institution just as for State universities, the gift of PC and more than 3,000 face marks and also for tarring the road leading to the school. The glamourous and grandiose ceremony also saw speeches from the Douala City Mayor and the chief of Ndokoti village as well as cultural performances from Ngando Picket, an assiko dance group and the fans club of IUG.
The ten participating teams are from Slovakia, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Benin, D.R. Congo, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and host, Cameroon with two teams; SNH Velo club and the national cycling team.
The criterium will be run over a distance of 25 km through some of the major alleys of the economic capital, before moving over to Yaounde for the rest of the competition that will take the race caravan to the East, Centre and South regions.