Ouagadougou — Herman Vessens, the Belgian team’s sporting director, revealed significant European interest and subsequent regret over non-participation in the Tour du Faso 2023. During an interview with the Agence d’Information du Burkina (AIB), Vessens shared insights into the sentiments of his European counterparts.
According to Burkina Information Agency, teams from Switzerland, Germany, and particularly the Netherlands reached out, expressing their regret for not attending the event. They inquired about the safety conditions, to which Vessens assured them there were no issues, highlighting the exemplary organization of the 34th edition of the Tour.
With 20 Tours du Faso experience and numerous visits to Burkina Faso since 2000 for humanitarian work, the 73-year-old Vessens commented on the security situation. He noted that he did not perceive any insecurity and felt comfortable throughout the event. Vessens also mentioned that he communicated the secure and hospitable environment to other European teams, disputing any claims that had made them hesitant to participate.
The best Belgian rider, Wouters Rutger, who secured 2nd place in the general classification, attested to the tour’s safety. Despite warnings from the European Union and advice from the Belgian embassy regarding the dangers in Burkina and West Africa, Rutger stated that the team faced no problems and expressed their satisfaction with the decision to compete.
Vessens assessed the competition level as average, attributing this to the absence of certain European teams. However, he praised the Burkinabè team, especially Paul Daumont, for their exceptional performance. Daumont was consistently the fastest in the stages, outpacing competitors including the Moroccans, leading Vessens to label him the “real winner of the Tour du Faso.”
The 2023 edition of the race featured 13 teams from 11 countries. From October 26 to November 5, 2023, the 71 cyclists traveled 1187.6 kilometers over 10 stages across 7 regions of Burkina. The Burkinabè cyclist Paul Daumont triumphed, claiming the yellow jersey ahead of Rutger by a margin of 25 seconds.