The Saunier Duval-Scott professional road cycling team started a project called "100 Years for a Million Trees" launched to celebrate Saunier Duval´s 100th anniversary in late 2006, and a small contingent of managers and riders travelled to Mali, Africa to continue the effort to fight desertification recently.
Headed by Mauro Gianetti, general manager of the team, and Carlos Doria, Saunier Duval Clima´s chairman, the riders who headed for Africa were Leonardo Piepoli, Rubén Lobato, Arkaitz Durán, and Rubens Bertogliati. They took part in a symbolic criterium around the capital city Bamako along with a group of top riders from Mali the week before Christmas.
The yellow delegation could see how residents take care of the 200,000 trees that have been planted in Mopti since the team´s first visit to the area, in December 2006. The people in charge of growing the four best-preserved trees were given pedal powered water pumps, a donkey, a plough, and a wheelbarrow, which make up a true treasure to local people.
Piepoli planted tree number 200,000, a figure that will increase over the next months until it reaches as high as one million, thanks to the determined efforts made by so many people.
Saunier Duval and its cycling team´s efforts will benefit 1,000 families, each family in charge of 1,000 trees. The project, which is supervised by the local government, has been carefully planned.
Firstly, the groves are cleared of bushes that keep both animals away and the desert at bay. Secondly, eucalyptus trees are planted to reduce the shortage of wood, and finally, trees that will bear fruit are planted.
"While we´re different as a team, our men are very close to each other," Doria said. "And our riders have realized that they can do more for their fellow man. People admire them for the humanitarian project we´ve launched."
"Of course we know this is just a small contribution," Gianetti added, "but we´re proud of it; we consider this project to be very important."
© BikeRadar 2007