Jean Bosco Nsengimana has won the 7th edition Tour du Rwanda, as Team Rwanda claims trophy for what has been described the most competitive tournament ever. Eritrea’s Metkel Eyob won today’s and last stage of 120km-10 laps around hilly Kigali city.
Metkel Eyob dashed from thin air and took the lead of 8th lap and defended it to the finish line. His countryman Amanuel Gebrezaghbier took the King of the mountains trophy for his supremacy on hilly terrains.
Meanwhile, in defense of what they already counted as victory, peloton managed to protect Nsengimana through today’s race and maintained an aggressive momentum until he crossed the finish line.
All racers rode the first five laps at a constant and moderate speed until Morocco’s Abdullah Hida escaped at a lightning speed on the 6th lap with 10 seconds gap on peloton. And the race turned upside down. The speed rose so high than the first five laps.
The sunny city unexpectedly was covered by a dark cloud. And then it started raining. Lap 7 collapsed in a matter of minutes. The streets went wild, with the crowd defying the heavy rain that kept pounding on them, instead all started running towards the finish line to get a closer look and celebrate Team Rwanda’s victory.
Fans waved the national flag along the streets, chanting patriotic slogans and cheering on riders and singing ‘amagare’ encouraging Team Rwanda to aim at triumph.
22-year old Bonaventure Uwizeyimama, winner of stage 5 at the 2014 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, was leading 7th lap, but within the range of peloton.
Then Eritrea’s Metkel Eyob dashed from thin air and took the lead of 8th lap. And the rain heightened the powering, but fans continued defying. No one moved even an inch; instead kept closing up to the finish line.
And then Moroccan riders attack on the 9th stage; catapulting the momentum. Anxiety shot to its best. Riders began panicking, throwing a quick eye behind to watch their back and see who is about to dash to the finish line.
For peloton, there was no time for eating bananas today. It was about focusing, maintaining the pace, launching surprise attacks, and holding up to the opponents.
Then counting laps stopped. The last lap began with uncertainty, though. Peloton split into individual groups of one, two, three, and four. At this moment, the crown was unsettled. Those in their homes and following on social networks continued to comment on the race. Momentarily, the conversations went mute. The talk on twitter with #TdRwanda hash-tag, the most trending now, suddenly stopped.
The whole nation remained anxious, some following the televised race on state TV, others on Radio stations. And then winner of stage 1, Janvier Hadi surfaced, thrusting into the heavy rain, taking 12 seconds lead on the last lap.
He did not know where Eritrea’s Metkel Eyob came from. Eyob cut Hadi’s gas off at a lightning speed from the right hand side, thrusting straight to the finish line, giving his country an equalizer of four stage wins to Rwanda with four wins as well.
Nsengimana, Areruya and Hakuzimana were already at Eyob’s bumper. They ceremoniously crossed the line, claiming Team Rwanda’s victory. Nsengimana sobbed.
“I’m happy with the general performance of the team, the aim is to now get more boys to qualify for the Olympics and the major European tours,” Team Rwanda cycling manager, Jock Boyer, said.
Without wasting time, in spite of the cold rainy showers, Nsengimana was already on top of the podium popping the champagne as his colleague waved placards written on “We Thank You Mr President” for he financed every single bit of what they needed, from the bikes, boots, jerseys, helmets, sunglasses and training.
“If you could feel the passion, energy and anticipation during [Tour of Rwanda] you’d soon agree that this is East Africa’s number one sporting event,” tweeted Alice Mukamana.