Under African skies: the peloton endures the heat near Kaya during stage 6. At the hottest part of the day temperatures on sections of the race course can surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
African teams have won the Tour du Faso 9 of 14 times, but not once since 1997. Foreigners have always done well and of late les blancsthe Dutch, Belgians, and Frenchhave come to dominate.
The 2001 event was organized by the Paris-based A.S.O. du Tour de France, which increased the budget to nearly half a million dollars. The race was broadcast nightly on European TV, prize money was increased, and beautiful podium girls were on hand to kiss the stage winners.
Getting dialed before a Tour de Faso stage. The European riders-racing on the latest aluminum and carbon-fiber bikeshave a marked equipment advantage over most of their African counterparts, who use ancient, battered steel bikes.
Velo ordinaire: a saddle-sore African steed. Jérémie Ouedraogo, leader of the Burkina Faso team and one of two West Africans to capture a stage in the 2001 contest, won his first road race on an old Peugot one-speed that was his family's only transport.
Children in the countryside are freed from school to watch, wave, and cheer as the race goes by. To the struggling riders that have fallen far behind the peloton, they shout, "Bon courage!"
Burkina Faso riders face tremendous obstacles in their quest to match the Europeans' racing level. Their country, the world's fourth poorest, has an appalling HIV infection rate, no tourist attractions or natural wealth, and is run by a corrupt military strongman.
This little piggy will lead a breakaway: Burkina Faso volunteer team trainer Victor Duchene provides cramp relief at the end of a stage.
High-speed handoff: a support car for the Moroccan team delivers water on the roll during a practice session.
I got next: a Burkina Faso youth displays a hand-made model bicycle at the race finish in Ouagadougou.