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ONE of Zimbabwe’s top cyclists Bright Chipongo is crying foul after he was allegedly denied a chance to compete at the African Continental Cycling Championship earlier this year.

The continental cycling championships is an annual event and this year it attracted more than 10 countries which included Zimbabwe, Zambia and hosts South Africa.

Chipongo, as the national champion, felt he ought to have been a crack at representing his country but alleged that African riders were being sidelined on racial grounds by a clique that wants to ensure the sport remains a private club of white cyclists.

A bitter Chipongo, who was demoralised at being left out, also claimed that one of the riders who was selected, Nkulumo Dube, was unable to travel to the African championships because of CZ’s incompetence and lack of commitment to his cause.

“When you look at the leadership of (Cycling Zimbabwe) CZ three years ago, Zimbabwe was represented at the All-Africa Games in Maputo by four black riders and one white rider but now the team has no blacks. “I am not only the only unhappy cyclist we are many, look at Brian Zengeni, the former Zimbabwe champion, who has represented the nation well in numerous AFCONS, All-Africa Games and big competitions in Europe.

“Zengeni must be recognised, I feel he must be involved in the sport and CZ must encourage him to help develop the sport fully.

“It is clear in the eyes of most people in the Zimbabwean cycling community that Chipongo is by far the most talented and dedicated road cyclist in the country,” said Chipongo.

The Harare community has six cyclists who cannot afford membership subscriptions at CZ and have been given free membership at the Harare Cycling Club.

Chipongo, Conway Mohamed, Andrew Marchussen, Jose Dia and Leigh Littleford are the five athletes who have registered with CZ.

“If you look at the junior men and the elite women performance was promising for the future. However, in the elite men’s category Under-23 the results were very disappointing.

“The Under-23 category rider finished a full half an hour behind the leaders, which equates to more than 20km behind the leader.

“The AFCON which was held in Eritrea three years ago where I competed was better I finished 2 minutes 40 seconds behind the leaders after suffering a puncture and having to pace back to the peloton for 20km on my own.

“I believe in road cycling Zimbabwe had higher chances of doing well if they had gone with the best riders. I still cannot understand why CZ has no black riders in the team when in the past few years blacks used to make the team.

Source : The Herald