Thought we had broken through every racial sports barrier? Think again. I was surprised myself when I heard about this, but meet Yohann Gene, the first Black cyclist to take part in the Tour de France.
Yohann, 30, took his place Friday in the 218 km seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race run between Le Mans and Chateauroux, center France. The Guadeloupian member of the Europcar team has been a professional racer since 2005. He moved to Europe when he was 17 and quickly discovered a passion for biking that would lead him to an accomplished future.
“When I ride, I see all kinds of landscapes. I feel free,” Yohann said in a Time World article. Yohann always pictured himself racing, but not in an event as popular as the Tour de France. “I always dreamed of the Paris-Roubaix — because of its audience and its warrior-like competitors who always risk falling.”
Even though racial barriers have been broken down in other sports, and cycling also, Yohann still had to face racism along the way.
“We have been subject to racism,” says his manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. “I had to deal with a few problems and contact sponsors of two foreign teams about it. After the doping incidents, I couldn’t let racism be part of cycling.”
Yohann’s teammates and peers look to him as a model teammate and vital to support. Great to see more racial barriers being broken in professional sports.