Team Karisimbi’s Valens Ndayisenga became the first Rwandan ever to win the annual Tour of Rwanda cycling competition ever since it was put on the international calendar in 2009.
The 20-year old romped to victory after a consistent display over the 7 stages of the tour to enter history books as the first Rwandan to win it ahead of his country mate Jean Bosco Nsengimana, who equally put up a solid display.
The Rwamagana-born rider became a constant national hero after emerging victorious amid cheers from thousands of Rwandans who turned up to watch the race in front of Amahoro National Stadium.
Ndayisenga, who began the 7th stage with 1 minute and 27 seconds between him and his closest foreign competitor, finished the day in 6th position but enough for him to retain the coveted jersey with 58 seconds ahead of Nsengimana.
Eritrean Aron Debretsion of AS.BE.CO Cycling Team was the only person capable of spoiling the party for Rwanda but a 12th place finish on stage 7 meant that he could not upset the status quo, with Ndayisenga comfortably cruising to one of the most historic wins for his country.
“I am excited. The country has been behind us. Every day I would wake up with a conviction that we can do it. There were many people encouraging us and I am glad this has paid off,”
“I cannot say it is my win. It has been a combined effort of many people-the coach, the federation and the players themselves. Everyone was determined to see us win and I am happy we made it. This victory is for all Rwandans,” Ndayisenga said after the win.
Moroccan Salaeddine Mraouni won the 7th stage after using 02h43’54’’ ahead of Jean Bosco Nsengimana who almost used similar time. Eritrean Dawit Haile took 3rd place.
Thousands of people had lined the roads between Remera, Kimironko, Kibagabaga, Nyarutarama and around Rwanda Development Board (RDB) while thousands waited at Amahoro National Stadium in anticipation of a Rwandan victory.
The Minister of Sports and Culture Ambassador Joseph Habineza, congratulated the Ndayisenga and the team in general for a wonderful performance and pledged continued support from the government to take cycling even further.
“There is no doubt that there is potential in cycling. The government will do whatever it takes to ensure that this sport continues to grow,” Habineza said, adding that the government will meet several commitments in reward to the performance of the Rwandan cyclist.
The Minister said that all team members will be accorded bonuses for representing Rwanda well while more money will be sunk into developing new talent.
Ferwacy President Aimable Bayingana said that Rwanda’s long wait had finally paid off, saying that the win was long time coming.
“Our efforts have not been in vain. This is what every Rwandan has been waiting for. We are very delighted that finally the title remains home,” an excited Bayingana said, commending the coach team which prepared the teams for a challenge.
The No.1 UCI African Tour winner Debesay Mekseb was crowned in Kigali after earning the necessary points but the Eritrean who rides for Team Bike Aid-Ride for Help sustained injuries after a fall on a turn in Kibagabaga on stage 7.
Mekseb, who won the 6th stage from Huye to Kigali on Saturday, suffered thigh and shoulder bruises during the crash which saw him struggle through the 7th stage. However he had done enough to claim the white jersey to make him the No.1 African cyclist.
- Mraouni Salaeddine –Morocco 02h43’54″
- Nsengimana Jean Bosco –Rwanda, Karisimbi 02h43’54″
- Dawit Haile –Eritrea 02h43’54″
- Melake Berhane -AS.BE.CO 02h43’54″
- Afewerki Elyas – Eritrea 02h43’54″
- Ndayisenga Valens -02h43’54″
- Mxenge Thulasizwe –South Africa, 02h43’54″
- Buru Temesgen –Ethiopia 02h43’54″
- Biziyaremye Joseph – Rwanda, Karisimbi 02h43’54″
- Amanuel Million –Eritrea 02h43’54″
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 7
- Ndayisenga Valens – Rwanda Karisimbi 24h57’10″ (WINNER 2014)
- Nsengimana Jean Bosco – Rwanda Karisimbi 53″
- Debretsion Aron – Eritrea 01’34″
- Biziyaremye Joseph – Rwanda Karisimbi 01’41″
- Mraouni Salaeddine – Morocco, 02’05″
- Buru Temesgen – Ethiopia 02’12″
- Amanuel Million – Eritrea 02’19″
- Melake Berhane – Eritrea 02’25″
- Dawit Haile – Eritrea 02’25″
- Saber Lahcen – Morocco, 02’52″
- Byukusenge Patrick – Rwanda Akagera 03’56″