Mekseb Debesay of Team Dimension Data had a memorable first race in Flanders yesterday when he got lost and arrived back at his hotel in Roeselare hours after the rest of the team. The 24 year-old from Eritrea was dropped from the main group towards the end of the race and got lost on a short cut back to the finish.
“It’s an amazing story,” Team Dimension Data’s Directeur Sportif Jean-Pierre Heynderickx told Het Nieuwsblad. “He rode his first race in Flanders. He fell behind in a group twenty kilometers from the finish that decided to take back roads to Harelbeke.”
“Debesay was afraid of getting lost and decided to follow the arrows on the course to get to the finish. Unfortunately, he strayed from the right path. At one time, he had 206 kilometers on his computer, while the race was just 200 kilometers. But he did not make it to Harelbeke.”
“Eventually he was desperate and asked (a local) to help a tourist. “Please, where is Harelbeke?,” he asked.”
“The man suggested that they would ride together to his home in Lierde. He let him take a shower, gave him fresh clothes and offered our hungry rider something to eat.”
“Meanwhile our team were very worried. I had already informed the police, the jury of the UCI and the organization, but no one had the slightest trace of him. Until suddenly came the phone at the Mercure Hotel in Roeselare.”