Ineos, the multinational chemicals company, is committed to the development of cycling in Africa. In partnership with British-based cycling team Ineos Grenadiers and double Olympic long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, the company is launching a new academy in Kenya. The academy will provide opportunities for young cyclists to develop their skills and compete at the highest level.
Ineos Grangemouth, a large manufacturing site that produces fuel and various petrochemical products.
Ineos Investment in Talent
The Ineos-Grenadiers are a professional cycling team that competes in both road racing and mountain biking. The team is based in the United Kingdom and is sponsored by Ineos, a chemical company. The team was formerly known as Team Sky, but changed its name to Ineos-Grenadiers in 2020. The team has been successful in both road racing and mountain biking, winning the Tour de France six times and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup four times. Some notable riders on team Ineos-Grenadiers include Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Egan Bernal.
Eliud Kipchoge at the 2017 Berlin Marathon.
Eliud Kipchoge is a Kenyan long-distance runner who specializes in marathons and is the prime talent Ineos is utilizing in the development of the new training center. He is the current world record holder in the marathon, with a time of 2:01:39. Kipchoge has won eight out of the ten marathons he has competed in, including three straight victories at the Berlin Marathon (2016–2018). In 2019, INEOS partnered with Kipchoge with the INEOS 1:59 challenge, and he became the first person to ever run a marathon in under two hours, with a time of 1:59:40.
The Academy as a Developmental Tool
The academy, which will be located at Kipchoge's training center in Kaptagat, is intended to provide opportunities for aspiring young African athletes. Ineos Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe visited the camp with Ineos Director of Sport and Team Principal Dave Brailsford and Kipchoge, and came away "convinced" deepening the commitment to the sport in Africa would produce positive results. Kipchoge also expressed his optimism as the facility expands from a purely athletics focussed training camp towards a wider kind of sports academy.
Ineos has plenty of prestige in training camps, one such displayed here in Tenerife, Spain.
Valentijn Trouw, with over 30 years of experience in developing long-distance runners, will be running the Ineos Eliud Kipchoge Cycling Academy. The aim of the academy is to create a world-class, sustainable academy in Kenya that provides Ineos Grenadiers with talented cyclists. Trouw believes that the exceptional local endurance talent combined with the great training environment at Kaptagat will be perfect for developing quality cyclists.
Valentijn Trouw is a Dutch athlete manager and sports executive. He is the current Athlete Manager for Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge and has helped to build the careers of many other World and Olympic Champions. Valentijn has a deep understanding of what it takes to be a world-class athlete, both in terms of training and preparation, as well as managing the team around them. He is also responsible for recruiting elite fields for major marathons, such as the TCS Amsterdam Marathon.
Cycling in Kenya
Bicycling is a popular mode of transportation in Kenya. Bicycles are affordable and allow people to avoid traffic congestion. Bicycles also provide an opportunity for exercise. People often ride bicycles to work or school. In Kenya, bicycling infrastructure is not well developed. There are no dedicated bicycle lanes and few places to lock up a bike. This makes it difficult for people who rely on bicycles as their main form of transportation. Cyclists have to share the road with cars, buses, and pedestrians, which can be dangerous. If more investment was made in developing bicycling infrastructure, it would make biking safer and more practical for Kenyans. Another issue is breaking the image in Kenya that bicycles are only a transportation tool, as commonly used by farmers.
The sport of professional bicycling has been growing in popularity in Kenya in recent years. This is due in part to the success of Kenyan cyclists such as Chris Froome and Stephen Kiprotich, who have both won the Tour de France. Kenyan cyclists are known for their strong endurance, which is perfect for long-distance racing. In addition to the Tour de France, there are many other professional races that take place in Kenya each year, including the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia.
Two cyclists going towards Mount Kenya, pictured in the background.
The Kenyan landscape is incredibly varied, from the arid plains of the north to the lush forests of the south. And while there are plenty of breathtaking vistas to be seen from a car or bus, there's nothing quite like experiencing them on two wheels. Whether you're cycling through Tsavo East National Park, where elephants and other wildlife roam free, or pedaling along the coast of Lake Victoria, Kenya is a cyclist's paradise.
Professional cycling in Africa is still in its infancy, but there are many talented riders emerging from the continent. Kenya and Eritrea have been particularly successful in recent years, with both countries having riders compete at top professional events. It is clear that African cyclists have a bright future ahead of them and it will be exciting to see how they progress in the years to come. The Kenyan Riders' team's recent attempt to become the first African team to qualify for the Tour de France is a sign of the growing popularity and success of professional cycling on the continent. With more and more Africans getting involved in the sport, it is only a matter of time before an all-African team competes at the Tour de France.