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The Tour de Lunsar
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Grassroots Racing in Sierra Leone

The Tour de Lunsar
-
Grassroots Racing in Sierra Leone


You probably haven't heard of Lunsar. A quick online search will tell you that it's a mining town in Sierra Leone. What it won't tell you is that Lunsar is home to a thriving cycling scene that hosts one of West Africa's largest, yet unofficial races - The Tour De Lunsar. Supporting this grassroots race, Le Col produced the 2019 Leaders' Jerseys, as well as a Limited Edition Jersey, from which funds will go to help secure this date in Sierra Leone's cycling calendar.

_

Two hours North East of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, phone signal in Lunsar is scarce - internet signal even scarcer. Word of mouth alone has carried this race to the outside world.

The team at Le Col only got wind of it through a friend - Tom Owen, who had been out there to witness it with the charity Street Child.

As a country without official UCI recognition, Sierra Leone's governing body is divided, leaving the nation's rider's largely without representation, and without a stage on which to display their talents.  

_

_


Tom told us about how he was 'blown away' by Karim 'Stylish" Kamara, who set up the Tour de Lunsar as a way of giving his local team a way to compete.

Karim does a huge amount for cycling in Sierra Leone, from running the country’s most successful race team, to delivering workshops that get more women and girls on bikes in rural areas of the country.

From a local race, the Tour de Lunsar has grown to the biggest cycling event in West Africa.

_


"I’ve met many people from the team, and every one of them shows the same passion, the same enthusiasm for their sport and – of course – a good natured West African spirit too. There are lots of road blocks, from red tape associated with the official ’status’ of the Tour de Lunsar, to the chronic shortage of good quality bikes and equipment. They don’t let any of it stop them – they love racing their bikes so they make that happen."
- Tom Owen

_

Hearing about this grassroots racing scene captivated our imaginations, and we knew we wanted to support it in some small way.

To help formalize this date in West Africa's racing calendar, Le Col decided to design and provide the race with official Leaders' Jerseys, specially designed for the race.

_

_

"Thousands came out to support the Tour de Lunsar. The race comprised 5 laps of the central criterium circuit, followed by a 35km out-and-back to Port Loko, then a further six finishing laps.

"The Tour de Lunsar was won by Ali Tholley of the C2C team based out of Freetown. His brother Mohammed (who came fourth in the race) represented Sierra Leone at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, so much is expected of this super-talented 16-year-old.

"In second place was Osman T Kalokoh of Lunsar Cycling Team. The pair had been in the breakaway all day together, managing to stay away from a chasing peloton of the race’s more fancied riders. Kalokoh the stronger rider physically did too much work in the break and was mugged on the final lap by Tholley."

_

_

"The women’s race was won by Makeni-based bike mechanic, Isata Sama Mondeh. Mondeh is the reigning women’s national champion but she was pushed hard to the line by Deborah Conteh from Lunsar CT."

_

_

"The green jersey for the junior race was presented to 16-year-old local rider, Moses L Kamara. Kamara was talent spotted at a school sports event last year, and has enjoyed successive first places in his first three races for the team."

_


As soon as we heard about the race, we recognised something universal – people who love riding and racing their bikes, building something together. This is a community engaged with cycle racing, and that’s something we wanted to support.

With an extremely limited edition run of jerseys, you too can support the Tour de Lunsar both as a fan of cycling, and as a backer of grassroots racing, with 10% going from each jersey directly to the cause.

You probably haven't heard of Lunsar. A quick online search will tell you that it's a mining town in Sierra Leone. What it won't tell you is that Lunsar is home to a thriving cycling scene that hosts one of West Africa's largest, yet unofficial races - The Tour De Lunsar. Supporting this grassroots race, Le Col produced the 2019 Leader's Jerseys, as well as a limited edition jersey, from which funds will go to help secure this date in Sierra Leone's cycling calendar.

_


Two hours North East of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, phone signal in Lunsar is scarce - internet signal even scarcer. Word of mouth alone has carried this race to the outside world.

The team at Le Col only got wind of it through a friend - Tom Owen, who had been out there to witness it with the charity Street Child.

As a country without official UCI recognition, Sierra Leone's governing body is divided, leaving the nation's rider's largely without representation, and without a stage on which to display their talents.  

_

_


Tom told us about how he was 'blown away' by Karim 'Stylish" Kamara, who set up the Tour de Lunsar as a way of giving his local team a way to compete.

Karim does a huge amount for cycling in Sierra Leone, from running the country’s most successful race team, to delivering workshops that get more women and girls on bikes in rural areas of the country.

From a local race, the Tour de Lunsar has grown to the biggest cycling event in West Africa.

_


"I’ve met many people from the team, and every one of them shows the same passion, the same enthusiasm for their sport and – of course – a good natured West African spirit too. There are lots of road blocks, from red tape associated with the official ’status’ of the Tour de Lunsar, to the chronic shortage of good quality bikes and equipment. They don’t let any of it stop them – they love racing their bikes so they make that happen." - Tom Owen
 

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_


Hearing about this grassroots racing scene captivated our imaginations, and we knew we wanted to support it.


So to help formalize this date in West Africa's racing calendar, Le Col decided to design and provide the race with official Leaders' Jerseys.


_

_



"Thousands came out to support the Tour de Lunsar. The race comprised 5 laps of the central criterium circuit, followed by a 35km out-and-back to Port Loko, then a further six finishing laps.

"The Tour de Lunsar was won by Ali Tholley of the C2C team based out of Freetown. His brother Mohammed (who came fourth in the race) represented Sierra Leone at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, so much is expected of this super-talented 16-year-old.

"In second place was Osman T Kalokoh of Lunsar Cycling Team. The pair had been in the breakaway all day together, managing to stay away from a chasing peloton of the race’s more fancied riders. Kalokoh, the stronger rider, did too much work in the break and was mugged on the final lap by Tholley."

_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_



"The women’s race was won by Makeni-based bike mechanic, Isata Sama Mondeh. Mondeh is the reigning women’s national champion but she was pushed hard to the line by Deborah Conteh from Lunsar CT."

_


"The green jersey for the junior race was presented to 16-year-old local rider, Moses L Kamara. Kamara was talent spotted at a school sports event last year, and has enjoyed successive first places in his first three races for the team."

James Fouché - NZL - 20


As soon as we heard about the race, we saw something universal – people who love riding and racing their bikes, building something together. This is a community engaged with cycle racing, and that’s something we wanted to support. With an extremely limited edition run of Supporters' Jerseys, fans of the Tour de Lunsar can own a jersey that has an iconic and unique origin. Le Col is donating 10% of every jersey sale directly to the cause.

_

"Having won the New Zealand national championships, I am really excited and roaring to get racing to show my new jersey off. It's always been a dream of mine wear the Silver Fern, so for it to become a reality is beyond words."

_

Incorporating the national colours of Sierra Leone, the Tour de Lunsar Jersey takes inspiration from the traditional weave patterns found in textiles of the Lunsar province.

Following the specification of the Le Col Pro Jersey, the Tour de Lunsar Jersey uses premium Italian fabrics in a race-fitting format. With silicone banding at the hem and sleeves, the jersey makes use of a quality pull-down zip and incorporates a fourth water-resistant pocket along side the conventional three rear pockets.

Coupled with our Tour de Lunsar Cap, you can back cycling whilst raising awareness for this race unlike any other.

With the team targeting top level performances in the coming year, we look forward to hearing more from our riders throughout the season, with their insight on the pro-circuit and its demands. With the first race of the season approaching fast, we'll be bringing you news of how the team get on at the Tour of Antalya UCI 2.2 race.


Incorporating the national colours of Sierra Leone, the Tour de Lunsar Jersey takes inspiration from the traditional weave patterns found in the traditionally produced textiles of the Lunsar province.

Following the specification of the Le Col Pro Jersey, the Tour de Lunsar Jersey uses premium Italian fabrics in a race-fitting format. With silicone banding at the hem and sleeves, the jersey makes use of a quality pull-down zip and incorporates a fourth water-resistant pocket along side the conventional three rear pockets.