Lunsar Cycling Junior Team's Ibrahim Kamara celebrates the defence of his Junior title at the Tour De Lunsar on March 24, 2022.

Gallery: The vibrancy of African cycling at the Tour de Lunsar

by Tom Owen

photography by Matt Grayson

CyclingTips contributors Tom Owen and Matt Grayson were in Sierra Leone for the 2022 edition of the Tour de Lunsar, held in late March. Tom’s words lead this off, and then Matt’s stunning photography tells the story.

The Science In Sport Tour de Lunsar is an explosion of sound and colour, an act of nation-building as much as a bicycle race. In a country where life can still be incredibly hard, especially for the young, the rowdy pursuit of sporting excellence is a welcome break from the day-to-day.

The weekend begins with a day of women’s and junior racing around Lunsar, and then the entire circus heads down the road to the capital for a men’s grand depart in Freetown that is nothing short of riotous. Two more days of men’s racing follow, with Ibrahim S Jalloh crowned the winner of the yellow, the polka dot, and the white sprinter’s jerseys. If Jalloh’s name rings a bell, it’s because he was the focus of a photograph that came to define our coverage of the 2019 race, sitting bereft on the back of a motorbike holding his bike in his arms after being ruled out with an unfixable mechanical.

Fatima Deborah Conteh won her first blue Le Col jersey as the women’s champion this year. If that name sounds familiar it’s because Conteh was announced as one of the members of the newly formed Canyon-SRAM Generation development team earlier this year. Frustratingly, a denied visa has meant she has so far been unable to join her teammates in Europe.

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