All Articles
All Articles Fuelling Guides Sport Training Tips Athletes Diversity Athlete Insight Series News Uncategorised Recipes Podcast Uncategorized Products & Recipes Videos Product Guides

Report: The First Science in Sport Tour de Lunsar

The Science in Sport Tour de Lunsar is Sierra Leone’s biggest bike race, the only multi-day event in the country. It is run on a fraction of the budget of a European race, and the participants – who are all amateurs – depend heavily on donated kit and equipment to compete. Despite the many hurdles it faces, the Tour de Lunsar is a riotous explosion of colour, and a focal point for passion and dedication. It is, to put it another way, the very essence of bike racing.

This year, for the first time ever, the Tour had a title sponsor, allowing it to make the step up from a one-day race to a multi-day event, with winner’s jerseys, better safety measures and more race support.

After four days of intense competition, 2021 proved to be the best edition of the race yet, with the elevation from one-day to a three-day race making the contest tougher than ever.

Hosted largely in the town of Lunsar, bar the first stage of the men’s event which started in the capital city of Freetown, the three-day men’s stage race served up some thrilling and hard-fought competition, with a different leader and stage winner on each day of the race.

On the day before the men’s stage race began, a pair of one-day races for junior men and elite women took place. In a departure from the traditional way of doing things in cycling, winners of these one-day events were also awarded a winner’s jersey.

Hometown rider, Ibrahim Kamara was the first to cross the finish line during race week, securing a green jersey as the winner of the junior race. He took an impressive solo victory, showing both his strength in one-day events and his clear potential to take on the elite field next year.

The women’s race saw the renewal of a familiar battle as Deborah Conteh and Isata Sama Mondeh went head-to-head once again after finishing first and second in the 2019 race. In the end, a two-up sprint between the rivals decided the result, and it was Mondeh who managed to defend her crown by a mere tyre’s width from Conteh, who once again settled for second.

In the three-day men’s race, teams fielded squads of six, with the host club, Lunsar Cycling Team, fielding an A and B roster.

On day one it was Osman T Kalokoh of Lunsar A who took the stage win. The man known locally as ‘OTK’ powered to a commanding victory from a three-man breakaway and had the honour of defending the leader’s jersey on stage two.

Holding onto the yellow jersey proved to be a challenge too large for OTK, as he failed to claw back lost time after missing the race-winning move in stage two. This forlorn chase produced one of the most striking images of the race, with OTK being followed by a bus in his attempt to bridge the gap to the leaders. The race is contested mostly on open roads, with traffic screaming past the riders at intervals – marshalled to a greater degree by the traffic police drafted in by the organisers.

With OTK out of the picture, it was his teammate Ibrahim Jalloh who took the stage two victory after a tough 128km out-and-back route from Lunsar to Makeni.

For Jalloh, this win served as redemption after a disastrously timed mechanical in 2019 saw him ruled out of the race, eventually finishing in 19th.

Jalloh’s win is perhaps the story of the race, with him training on donated rollers throughout 2020 with the sole objective of coming back to the Science in Sport Tour de Lunsar stronger. As well as his stage win, Jalloh secured the white jersey overall, awarded to the best performer in the race’s intermediate sprints.

On the third and final stage of the race, Abu Sheik Sesay of Lunsar B was the one defending the leader’s jersey after finishing second in the first two stages. However, he couldn’t repeat this feat and subsequently lost the race lead to the eventual victor, Sorie Koroma.

Koroma’s success was built on a solid foundation of consistency, and although he did not take a stage win, he continually finished near the front and made sure to never give away a second of time to his rivals.

He said, after the race, “I felt very happy to be declared the winner of the SiS Tour de Lunsar. I am really proud of my team, LCT. In the moment of being announced as winner, I was delighted.”

Moses Kamara took the final stage win after 87km of racing from Lunsar to Port Loko and back again. For Moses, this served as a real measure of progression after he won the junior race in 2019.

A special mention has to go to the fans and the people of Lunsar, who came out in numbers to support the riders and teams at this year’s race. Images of riders and fans side-by-side after the race dancing in the streets to the sound of local musicians will be a long-lasting memory for all those involved. There is clearly an appetite for cycling in this small, traditionally football-obsessed nation.

Speaking after the race, title sponsor Science in Sport’s CEO Stephen Moon said, “We are so honoured to have been involved in the progression from a one-day to a three-day event. It’s great to see the race evolve and hopefully our commitment will see more riders involved next year.”

Chief race organiser Abdul Karim Kamara also shared a few words.

“It has been a hugely successful edition of the Tour de Lunsar, none of which would be possible without the help of Science in Sport. We are looking forward to next year already – we have learned plenty of lessons about how to improve for future editions!”

Written By

The Performance Solutions Team