From Ouagadougou to Paris, or from Burkina Faso to France, this sportnewsafrica.com feature story tells a different story of cycling, from its origins to the present day. Michel Bationo was an emblematic figure in the Tour de France. The first black official was also a slate-maker at the Tour du Faso before playing the same role at the Tour de France from 2002 to 2006.
Sitting in the background of the bike, Burkinabè Michel Bationo indicated the gap between the breakaway riders and the peloton. A physical education and sports teacher, Michel Bationo began his career in Burkina Faso as a timekeeper for the Tour du Faso, before willingly taking on the role of slate quarryman. His astonishing history with the Tour de France began after an interview with a France Télévisions team, in which he confessed his dream of taking part in the Tour de France.
Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc and his deputy Jean-Claude Hérault, impressed by Michel Bationo's good performances, invited him to take part in the 2002 Tour de France as an official three months later. From 2002 to 2006, the Burkinabè learned a great deal and can only look back on a positive experience."The Tour de France gave me a lot.In 2003, which was the centenary of the Tour, I was one of the 100 personalities. Through my role as a slate quarryman, I've made a lot of contacts in France, Mali, Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire, where I was even decorated by President Laurent Gbagbo at the time", says Michel.
After five years of service, he still remembers his mid-race exchanges with American cyclist Lance Armstrong. "Lance Armstrong in his day was in the breakaways and when I arrived to present him with the gap, he said to me, 'Michel, Michel!' So I said to him "Do you know me?".He replied "Yes, yes".He said, "Go and tell the peloton at the back to stop and pee". I thought it was funny. I thought to myself, here's someone who's making a tired effort and manages to express himself and recognize my first name.
Michel Bationo, recovered then sidelined from the Tour du Faso
After being snapped up by the Tour de France, the organizers of the Tour du Faso succeeded in recovering one of the competition's icons, Michel Bationo.The comeback will be short-lived, however, as the man courted for his cycling skills was not selected by his country to organize the 33rd edition of the Tour Cycliste International du Faso. "I was left out of the organization of the Tour Cycliste du Faso for no reason.What's certain is that, as a technician, it's not because of a job badly done, but quite simply because politics has entered cycling in Faso. I was president of the Ligue du Centre du Cyclisme for 4 years ( 2016-2020 ). At the end of my term, I refused to vote again and organized elections to succeed me.There were two candidates.Of the 14 clubs in the league that voted, each candidate received 7 votes. In that case, the senior candidate won. That's what was done, but the losing side didn't like it and appealed to the regional league.But as time went by, I noticed that they started to keep me away from certain things, until I was no longer allowed to organize the Tour Cycliste du Faso", he regrets.
However, it should be noted that Michel Bationo had received recognition from the Burkinabe State thanks to the Minister of Sports, Colonel Yacouba Ouedraogo. "I was decorated at the time of Minister Yacouba Ouédraogo, after discussions. It's thanks to Colonel Yacouba Ouédraogo, Minister of Sports at the time, that I was decorated, and it's not thanks to the federation or anyone else, and that's a shame. Through me, there are lots of people who work and who are forgotten, like former champions".
The former Tour de France slate-maker is still a guest at the event, as evidenced by his presence again at the 2023 edition and for international conferences.