Once considered as an ordinary game, cycling in Rwanda dates back since 1970s and 1980s when Rwandans cherished seasoned cyclists; Tour du Rwanda emerged from the country’s local pioneers in 1988 following several region – based bicycle races.
The cycling competitions gradually evolved from; Tour du Kigali, Tour de l’Est (Kigali-Rwamagana), Ascension des Milles Collines (Kigali-Butare-Akanyaru) and Tour des Volcans (Cyanika-Ruhengeri-Gisenyi) which attracted various local cyclists.
Such local competitions became an eye opener to some ministerial officials in charge of sports at that time and organized a nation-wide cycling competition bringing together exclusively local cyclists.
One year later, local competitions turned regional and attracted cyclists from neighbouring countries including; Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Burundi and Kenya.
With local officials’ experiences and expertise of international cycling competition organizers, Tour du Rwanda grew into an international event and won recognition by UCI-Union Cycliste Internationale (Cycling Union International) in 2009.
Since then, Tour du Rwanda has risen into the top three on the African continent and attracted cyclists from across the world.
While Tour du Rwanda was a sub-regional competition, Rwandan nationals finished first in all competitions except in 2006 clinched by a Kenyan.
With the participation of professional riders from USA, Morocco, Eritrea and South Africa, Tour du Rwanda saw big changes and raised its bar. Only two Rwandan riders managed to win the Tour du Rwanda.
As the competition draws closer to 13th November 2016 marking a week-long sporting spectacle, the suspense over this year’s Tour du Rwanda winner is building up. Will a Rwandan national once again clinch the yellow Jersey or change hands?
Here are all the Tour du Rwanda winners from 1988 to 2015:
1988: Celestin Ndengeyingoma
1989: Omar Masumbuko
1990: Omar Masumbuko
1991-2000: Tour du Rwanda’s halt
2001: Bernard Nsengiyumva
2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005: Abraham Ruhumuriza
2006: Peter Kamau (Kenya)
2007: Abraham Ruhumuriza
2008: Adrien Niyonshuti
2009: Adil Jelloul (Maroc)
2010: Danel Teklehaimanot Girmazion (Erithrea)
2011: Kiel Reijnen (USA)
2012: Darren Lill (South Africa)
2013: Dylan Girdlestone (South Africa)
2014: Valens Ndayisenga
2015: Jean Bosco Nsengimana