Extraordinary tales of ordinary cyclists.
Rare are the sports where professional athletes compete against amateurs. A football match between Manchester United and that local middle-aged Dad’s team is virtually unheard of, yet in the world of cycling this does happen. The Tour of Sharjah that takes place in the UAE is one such event where this occurs. It is a battle between David and Goliath, only here, Goliath is guaranteed to win.
Once again, WJ Groundwater-sponsored Team Frankie’s formed a motivated squad of talented amatueur cyclists. In-house members counted: Levi Angelo Denys, David Williams, Youcef (Paul) Cummings, Neil and Richard who were joined by guest rider Bader Thani, the former Arabian Sprint Champion.
Now in its 4th year the Tour of Sharjah has become an established UCI 2.2 cycling event (the same classification as the Tour of Britain). The competition is completed over four stages totalling 665 km. This year it has attracted some strong professional continental as well as national teams. Besides the UAE, there were teams from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait, Malaysia, Azerbaijan and Hong Kong, along with professional teams from Sharjah and the world class Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team and Sky Dive Dubai. Amateur cyclists do not compete for the win at events of this calibre. They compete to surpass themselves. To discover limits they thought were beyond their reach, to impress with their extraordinary mental toughness rather than through sheer power alone. To race side by side against their childhood idols is an inspiration yet there are only four riders in the field that were born in the 1970s – it is particularly notable that Team Frankies’ Youcef (Paul) Cummings is the oldest rider in the field at the age of 48.
Each of the riders had their brave battles and they all fought hard in a Tour that is proving year after year to be tougher and less accessible to the amateur cyclist. A big thank you to Bader for joining the team on this Tour. It is an honor to have a rider of this calibre wearing our blue kit. Richard and Neil also raced in the UAE Cup, further making sure Team Frankie’s is represented at all UAE cycling events. The average speed was a blistering 46.4 km/h (29 mph in old money).
All at WJ Groundwater salute the Team Frankie’s dedication to the race and wish them continued good luck at the next race.
Stage 1 – Sharjah – Sharjah – 2h 32m 59s – 43.9 km/hr
Badr Al Thani was the best Team Frankie’s rider and he finished in 49th place.
Stage 2 – Sharjah to Dibba al Hisn – 170 km – 04h 20m 42s – 39.1 km/hr
Levi finished 36th, just 16 sec off the winner.
Stage 3 – Maliha to Hamriya – 165 km – 03h 40m 19s – 44.9 km/hr
Youcef (Paul) Cummings finished in the first field of the main pack of 39 riders and recorded the same time and was the best Team Frankie’s finisher on the day.
Stage 4 – Sharjah – Madam – 190 km – 04h 27m 33s – 42.6 km/hr
Youcef (Paul) Cummings came 29th (with the same time as the winner).
The final ranking of Team Frankie’s top places Levi (56th) and Youcef (58th) 25 minutes behind the race winner from Skydive Dubai at 15hr 01min 01sec.
Read our earlier blog about Team Frankie’s involvement with WJ Groundwater here.
Photos and original unedited content courtesy of Toufic Hobeika and Team Frankie’s.
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