Nigerian cyclists dominate Osagyefo Criterium

BY: Kwame Larweh
Dr Kwaku Ofosu Asare (left) presents a trophy to the winner ABAKA Kurotimi
Dr Kwaku Ofosu Asare (left) presents a trophy to the winner ABAKA Kurotimi

ABAKA Kurotimi from Bayelsa State in Nigeria beat a strong field of Ghanaian cyclists to win this year’s Osagyefo Criterium race staged in Accra yesterday. He crossed the finish line in front of the Accra Sports Stadium yesterday in a time of three hours, 20.12 minutes to claim the top prize in a competition held in honour of Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah.

In a thrilling race that featured about 70 professional cyclists, it was 30-year-old Kurotimi who broke away from the peloton with a few laps to go and sprinted to the finish line to grab the winner’s trophy, medal and GH¢C20,000 cash prize ahead of the runners-up Michael Agbugblah and Victor Cudjoe.

The event was organised by the Gladiators Cycling Club with sponsorship by its founder and Chief Gladiator, Kojo Graham, and saw the cyclists covering a distance of 126km over 25 laps. The cyclists raced through the principal streets of Accra and past the Stadium through the Starlets ‘91 Street towards the National Theatre to the Castle Road.

Agbugblah of Guntin Cycling Club came second in a time of three hours, 20.13 minutes to take home GH¢10,000, a trophy and a medal, while third-placed Cudjoe clocked three hours, 21.58 minutes to take home GH¢5000 cash and a medal.

Nigeria dominance
It was a double delight for Nigeria as 23-year-old Nigerian Ese Lovina won the women’s competition of 15 laps race in a time of two hours, 32.10 minutes.

She received GH¢10,000, a trophy and a medal as her prize, with Ghana’s Deborah Alabebieton (two hours, 50.11 minutes) and Erica Sedro (three hours, 08.21 minutes) as the first runner-up and the second runner-up respectively.

The ladies’ competition was organised by the technical director of the Ghana Cycling Association, Shaaban Mohammed, and other members of the association.

After the competition, Mr Graham told the Daily Graphic that the race was to support the development of the sport and also create a platform for all Ghanaian youth to unite as envisaged by the late Dr Nkrumah.

He indicated that next year's competition would be diverse and include a tour, a time trial and a criterium.

The Executive Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the 2023 African Games, Dr Kwaku Ofosu-Asare, lauded the cyclists for displaying a high level of endurance.

He pledged that the African Games would come off as planned with cycling featuring prominently in the continental competition.