Rwanda’s U23 national cycling team starts quest for honours at the first edition of the Tour de l’Espoir which starts on Wednesday in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The inaugural Tour de l’Espoir which is organised by Vivendi Sports under the auspices of Cameroon Cycling Federation and International Cycling Union is one of the six competitions on the UCI calendar for the U23 Nations Cup in 2018.
Team Rwanda is comprised of double Tour du Rwanda 2017 and La Tropicale Amissa Bongo 2018 reigning champion Joseph Areruya who rides for South Africa’s Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
Areruya who is bidding for a second successive major victory this year is joined by club mate Samuel Mugisha, Didier Munyaneza, Jean Paul René Ukiniwabo, Jean Damascene Ruberwa and Samuel Hakurikirayezu.
The six-man cyclists are under the tutelage of Sterling Magnell who is accompanied by the team physiotherapist Obed Ruvogera while mechanic Eric Maniriho.
The four-stage race with a total distance of 417 kilometers begins with the first stage, a 92km criterium race in Douala on Wednesday, January 31.
After the Tuesday’s opening round, cyclists will ride 147km from Idenau to Douala on the second day of the tour due on February 1st, 2018.
The third day of the tour will involve a 101.8km criterium race in Yaounde before concluding with the last stage of the tour where cyclists will ride 80.5km from Akono to Yaounde.
Speaking to media this week, Rwanda Cycling Federation president Aimable Bayingana has tipped the Rwandan riders to do well in Cameroon and is confident “they have the talent, ability and spirit to fight and win.”
“The primary target is to win the race, like we did at La Tropicale in Gabon and Tour du Rwanda last November. The boys have all it takes and we can expect a victory in Cameroon,” he said.
A total of 15 teams from 15 countries namely; Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Mali, Mauritius, South Africa, Rwanda, Tunisia, Vietnam and Egypt are taking part in the cycling tournament competition which will traverse in three Cameroonian regions of Littoral, the Southwest and the Center, especially in the cities of Douala, Idenau, Limbe, Yaounde.
The best two riders at Tour de l’Espoir will book ticket to compete at the 2018 Tour de l’Avenir in France, a race regarded as the U23 version of the famous Tour de France.