Why are there so many Eritrea fans at the World Championships?

They’re not very hard to spot. Just look for the dozens of enormous Eritrean flags fluttering in the muggy air in downtown Richmond along the road race course at the World Championships.

Merhawi Kudus is surrounded by fans at the World Championships Credit: Richard Abraham
Merhawi Kudus is surrounded by fans at the World Championships Credit: Richard Abraham

Look a little more closely and you’ll find there are Eritrean flag-themed scarves, T-shirts, drums, beanies, and even woolly jumpers numbering in their hundreds, all belonging to the vast number of Eritrea fans at this year’s Worlds.

“We think there will probably be double this number, if not more, come the weekend. There will be thousands of us!” Dawit Haile, fan and officer for the Eritrean national federation, told Cycling Weekly.

“These people have all had to take the day of work to come here.”

The Dutch are well known for their (often boozy) enthusiasm for cycling but this year they are yet to descend on the world championships. It would be a very long, wet drive in a motorhome.

Instead it’s Eritrea’s supporters who are rivalling the home team USA in terms of numbers, and who are unparalleled when it comes to noise and energy levels.

“If they [our riders] win, great, but if not we’re still proud,” added Haile.
Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/why-are-there-so-many-eritrea-fans-at-the-world-championships-193183#oY7

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