Conquista - The Cycling Quarterly Issue 2 - Page 172

By 2008, Nicholas had trained one Kenyan hopeful to test his abilities on l’Alpe d’Huez in France. Zakayo Nderi completed the climb in 42m 10s. To put this into perspective, Nderi completed the climb faster than Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault in 1986 (48m), Fausto Coppi in 1952 (45m 22s), Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal in 2011(43m 12s) and Pedro Delgado in 1989 (42m 15s). Nderi was only 40s slower than Alberto Contador in 2011. Your first natural reaction is that Nderi’s time is good because he did not have to ride for 120-150kms before beginning the ascent of the 21 switchbacks. However, equally, Nderi also did not have years of training on the bike. It was a straight out test to see where a world class endurance athlete could stand amongst the times of noted riders. Nderi’s result was an indication of what could be possible. It allowed Nicholas to dream of establishing a fully professional Kenyan cycling team. In 2009, a company was incorporated in Singapore to fund a team of coaches and support staff and established a permanent training base in Iten. The program takes potential talent and starts them out on rough BMX and pump tracks. They ride the traditional African bike, the Black Mamba. They race mountain bikes through tight single tracks and grueling climbs. They teach every element of the bike and how to ride it. They race aluminium road bikes and learn how to take corners faster and faster. The program takes second hand equipment and makes do. It is a true grass roots program turning nothing into something. 172