Rwandans will brace the rains and chilly weather once again cheering the national cycling team in a tight competition of Tour of Rwanda commonly known as Tour du Rwanda.
It is grueling, brutal, and unpredictable competition with tough circuits across the country covering a total distance of 819.1 Kilometers.The competition begins on November 13-20.
Organisers say 85 cyclists grouped in 17 teams from across the world will for eight days compete in this 8th edition of the annual Tour of Rwanda.
More excitment is expected on stage 4 along the Rusizi – Huye circuit the longest covering 140.7 kilometers.
Stage five that starts in Muhanga and ends in Musanze covers a total distance of 125.8km is set to be the most grueling leg of the race consisting of the highest climb at 2,450 meters above sea level which is expected to favor the climbers.
Rwanda is represented by three teams each comprising of five riders. Three other Rwandan riders including defending champion Jean Bosco Nsengimana (German side Straddali Bike aid) will compete for foreign teams. Others include 2008 Winner Adrien Niyonshuti who will line up with another former champion Valens Ndayisenga for South African cycling team Dimension Data Qhubeka.
South Africa’s cycling team is expected to give the hosts a run for their money boasting of arguably one of the strongest lineups in the event, “When you look at their mix of two former champions plus the experienced head of Ethiopian rider Metkel Eyob (finished third and forth in the past two editions) you have what might be the strongest lineup on paper,” said Luis Angel Mate a cyclist enthusiast.
Team Dimension Qhubeka became the first African based cycling team to compete and win a stage at the Tour de France which has been christened as the Holy Grail of the sport.
This year’s tour is also expected to be the swansong for veteran rider Nathan Byakusenge who is part of an experienced Team Rwanda having announced his due retirement from the sport after this year’s Tour. The 29 year old alongside teammate Gasore Hategeka hold the record for most consecutive participations in the race, having been part of seven previous editions.
“There comes a time when your body can no longer handle the physical demands of the sport and personally I feel my time has come, I’m going to give it my all this year,” he said.
Since becoming a member of the International Cycling Union (UCI) certified race, the Tour has produced a different winner each year of which only the past two have come from the hosts.
This year’s sponsors of Tour du Rwanda include; KigaliToday Ltd, Skol, Ministry of Sports and Culture, Cogebanque, Soras, Rwanda Development Board, Inyange, SP, RBA
Rwandan Cycling Teams:
Les Amis Sporif de Rwamagana
Jean Claude Uwizeye
African national teams:
- Team South Africa
- Team Ethiopia
- Team Eritrea
- Team Egypt
- Team Algeria
Uci continental teams:
- Dimension Data for Qhubeka (South-Africa)
- Kenyan Riders Downunder (Kenya)
- Sharjah Cycling Team (United Arab Emirates)
- Cycling Academy Team (Israel)
- Tirol Cycling Team (Austria)
- Stradalli Bike Aid (Germany)
- Team Lowestrates.com (Canada)
- Team Haute-Savoie Rhône-Alpes (France)
- Team Meubles Decarte (Switzerland)