After Mathias Sorgho won the title at the 31st edition of the Tour Cycliste International du Faso in 2018, the Burkina team is no longer able to do so. The image of the Étalons cyclistes capable of eliminating the best competitors has faded. Burkina wants to rediscover its identity with a show that attracts people and with a quality squad, because the expectations for the team during the 34th edition of the Tour du Faso, scheduled from October 26 to November 5, 2023, are quite enormous.
In recent years, the Burkina Faso team has lost its appeal on the Tour du Faso and African roads. Fans are finding it hard to recapture the team that used to inspire them not only with its beautiful racing, but also with the quality of its riders. The results have not lived up to the ambitions of Burkina Faso's top cycling officials.
"The balance sheet doesn't live up to our expectations".
"Right now, if we want to make an assessment, it's not up to our expectations. The support we expect from sponsors has not been forthcoming. As a result, we haven't been able to organize as many national competitions as we'd hoped.We were also unable to put on a very good performance by the national team. In this respect, it has to be said that we did have the support of the Ministry of Sport, but it wasn't up to the standard we wanted", explains Lazare Zabré, Vice-President of the Burkinabe Cycling Federation (FBC).
He adds: "Cycling is a sport that doesn't lie. It's hard work, but you have to put in the resources for preparation, because if you're not well prepared, it's complicated to go and compete with the big boys at international level. But I can say that it's only a temporary setback. It costs a fortune to maintain a club and its riders. So I commend the courage and willpower of these managers who, despite the difficulties, maintain the riders".
"We're experiencing enormous difficulties".
Prosper Tapsoba, vice-president of the AS Bessel club, points out: "Cycling in Burkina Faso is not doing as well as we'd like. We, as a club, are experiencing enormous difficulties on the ground and we say that at the moment, there are a lot of things to do to take up the challenge".
Great generations have marked the life of Burkinabe cycling. The one before 1990 and 2000, marked by Mady Kaboré, Maxime Ouédraogo, Aimé Zongo, Saïdou Rouamba, Maurice Sawadogo, Karim Yaméogo and Ernest Zongo, and the one after, marked by Abdoul Wahab Sawadogo, Rabaki Jérémie Ouédraogo, Hamidou Zidweiba, Rasmané Ouédraogo, Abdoul Aziz Nikiema, Harouna Ilboudo and Mathias Sorgho, and the arrival at the head of the team of Martin Sawadogo, National Technical Director of the FBC.
Burkina Faso has the best record of success in the Tour du Faso.Since its creation in 1987, Burkina has won a total of 15 titles in 33 editions. After conquering the Tour du Faso, the Étalons cyclistes extended their tentacles across the continent, winning prestigious trophies in Togo, Benin, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea.
How can a team regain its former glory?
For a team to be competitive, it needs a vision, organization, a choice on the part of the management to have great riders who can stay over the long term, and the involvement of the State to help the team regain its former lustre. "Find a format to reorganize the national championships to make them more competitive. We can organize the format of categories where we'll have elites, juniors, cadets, amateurs and others.We can also create classifications for each category.We also have a plan. We plan to train some riders here and others elsewhere in the training centers we've already contacted. Apart from these details, we're waiting for the State to support us," says Lazare Zabré, vice-president of the FBC, who hopes that with these investments, the results will soon follow.
In three months' time, the 34th edition of the Tour du Faso will be launched. Burkina's last title dates back to 2018. The directors hope to see the drought come to an end this year.