On the trail of Africa’s biggest international bike race

La Tropicale

Retrouvez la Tropicale sur le site du Guardian, avec les photos de Gautier Demouveaux également en galerie sur le site du Rouleur.


The sun beats down on the town of Ndondjé while La Tropicale’s official Afrobeat song blasts on a loop from the PA. Dancers move in unison to the groove as cyclist Yauheni Hutarovich applauds their efforts from the podium.

On a road nearby, there’s chaos. The fourth stage of Africa’s largest international bike race – named after former president Omar Bongo’s late daughter, Amissa Bongo – is running late. The 500-person transfer across Gabon in planes, trains and automobiles the previous day was delayed, and the South Africa team manager is screaming at his Cameroonian peer: “Turn around, you’re holding everyone up!”

The race starts an hour late but nobody bats an eyelid. It’s just another day at La Tropicale, the 600 mile (970km) stage race through the small west African country of Gabon.