The 11th edition of the Tropical Amissa bongo cycling race was launched in Gabon on Monday.
The race brings together professional cyclists from various countries around the world and marks the beginning of the international cycling season.
Nine African national teams, including those from Eritrea, Rwanda and Morocco, and five professional teams from the French Direct Energie led by Thomas Voeckler are participating.
The first stage was won by Italian cyclist Andrea Palini.
Among the favourites for the final victory are stage winners of major tours like Thomas Voeckler and Brice Feillu (Tour de France), Ivan Santaromita (Tour of Italy), Antonio Piedra and Francisco Mancebo (Tour of Spain) and Tunisian Rafaa Chtioui , winner of the 2015 edition.
The 777 kilometer race will see the cyclists traverse Gabon under sweltering and humid heat.
The race will also make a foray into Cameroon Thursday.
The end of the race will be in Gabon’s capital Libreville on Sunday January 24.