From June 25 to July 6, the Algerian city of Oran will be the capital of Mediterranean sport. It will host the 19th edition of the Mediterranean Games. 12 days of sport, emotions, celebrations. Among the 24 sports offered, cycling.
221 cyclists will compete in Algeria’s second city, between June 30 and July 2. The program includes two events: an individual time trial and an individual road race, for both women and men.
The time trials will take place on June 30: 18 km for women and 25 km for men. Regarding the road race, the women’s event will be an 80 kilometer race with 469 meters of elevation. For men: 147 kilometers with a drop of 926 meters.
A varied route that will surely please cyclists, as Kerim Gherabiou, president of the Oran cycling league, says: “We have chosen a hilly course, there is nature. We will leave Oran to join another wilaya [division administrative algérienne, ndlr]it is called Aïn Témouchent, and we will come back to Oran”.
Medal hope for local cyclists
She has every chance of winning a medal. At only 18 years old, Nesrine Houili has already been crowned African champion 2022 in three categories: elite time trial, road race hopefuls and time trial hopefuls.
The young Oranaise knows the course perfectly, she has been training here for the past few months and has good reason to be particularly motivated: “It is, firstly, in Algeria, secondly it is at home, in Oran, here. And then it’s near my home, my family and I hope to do a good result”, she tells us.
Nesrine hopes that these Games can inspire young people to cycle in the future. ” We don’t have many champions here. We don’t have much idea of the bike, and I hope we will share this idea for the future, from these Games “.
Two jewels, up there on the mountain
No question of pedaling the 147 kilometers of the official route. On the other hand, we wanted to take you to the highest point of Oran which dominates the city: Mount Murdjadjo (429 m above sea level), where the chapel of Santa Cruz and the famous fort of the same name are located. As some locals have told us, it really is an iconic place.
“Santa Cruz is a tourist spot. Everyone who comes to Oran goes up to Santa Cruz. And when you’re up there, you have this panoramic view..”, says a young man.
“Santa Cruz is a charming monument. It is the flavor of the history of this city. The city that has known several civilizations, the city that reveals its antiquity and its authenticity“, says a woman.
From up there, you can admire this Christian chapel, with its Virgin watching over the city. The French built it in 1850, to thank Our Lady of Salvation for ending a terrible cholera epidemic the previous year.
But this place is much more than a simple chapel. “This mixture here in this place, this Christian sanctuary, the Spanish fort and then above a mosque, that’s all… I think it’s a good reflection of Oran, it’s Oran in which we like to live together”says Jean-Paul Vesco, archbishop of Algiers and former bishop of Oran.
Above the chapel, you can admire the magnificent fort of Santa Cruz. It was built in the second half of the 16th century (between 1577 and 1604) by the Spaniards. Previously, the Ottomans had built a first fort on the site. But after being defeated by the Spaniards, who ruled Oran for about 300 years until 1792, Fort Santa Cruz was rebuilt.
It is a real gem, particularly well preserved despite the passage of time. “This fortress is one of the best known in Algeria and even in the world, due to the large number of visitors”, explains Mustapha Bensahla, tourist guide and guardian of Fort Santa Cruz. “It is a historical landmark for everyone. In addition to that, everyone knows that Oran will soon experience an international event, which is truly global for me: the Mediterranean Games”.