Algerian road bicycle racer, Lagab Azzedine who rides for the Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers d’Algérie team won the opening stage of the 97.5-kilometre race around the Rwamagana district in Rwanda’s Eastern Province on Sunday.
Stage One saw the peleton cover 97.5km comprised of 15 laps of 6.5 km each- around Rwamagana town.
The 32-year old Azzedine clocked 02h12’21 to set a new record in the Tour du Rwanda where he has won a consecutive third stage victory in four of his tour appearances in the country.
Spanish Lozano Riba David of Team Nova Nondisk finised second while South Africa’s Fourie James was third, coming ten seconds behind the duo.
It was not a good start for Rwandans despite Ndayisenga Valens and Ruberwa Jean Baptsita having promising starts only to falter with two rounds to go.
Ndayisenga who rides for POC Cote de Lumiere was the best ranked Rwandan finishing fifth in 02h12’33, followed by Mugisha Moise of Les Amis Sportifs in seventh slot while Rugamba Janvier finished eighth respectively.
Action continues on Monday with stage two action, set to start from Kigali City and will climax in Huye District covering a distance of 120.3 kilometres that will feature three categorised climbs at the beginning, while Stage 3, from Huye to Musanze, is the longest, covering 195.3 kilometres and four brutal climbs.
Stage 4, from the Musanze district in Northern Province to Karongi down south, is 135.8 kilometres long.
The riders will have to contend with three difficult climbs in the 95.1-kilometre Stage 5, while Stage 6 — from Rubavu to Kinigi – also has three climbs in its 108.5-kilometre distance, where cyclists will ride on the foot of the breathtaking Volcanoes National Park, home to the famous mountain gorillas.
Stage 7 is a 107.4-kilometre trip from Musanze district to Kigali city. The penultimate stage will see riders twice tackle the now famous 500-metre ‘Wall of Kigali’, a 12 percent steep climb of cobblestones which attract hundreds of fans.
This year’s edition of Tour du Rwanda will be last event under the 2.2 race classification. The 2019 event will be upgraded to the 2.1 category, becoming only the second such event alongside Gabon’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo under the 2.1 category of the of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Africa Tour.
All eyes are on Rwandan riders who are seeking for a fifth title in a row since the historic 2014 triumph by Valens Ndayisenga that have seen local riders own their race. Joseph Areruya, winner of last year’s edition, will not be defending his title since his French UCI team Delko Marseille Provence KTM will not be taking part.
10th Tour du Rwanda
Stage 1 Results
1. Lagab Azzedine (Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers, Algeria)-02h12’21
2. Lozano Riba David (Team Novo Nondisk, Spain)-02h12’21
3. Fourie James (South Africa)-02h12’31
4. Doring Jonas (Team Descartes Romande, Swiss)-02h12’31
5. Ndayisenga Valens (POC Cote de Lumiere) -02h12’33
6. Beyer Sebastien (Team Embrace the World)-02h12’34
7. Mugisha Moise (Les Amis Sportifs)-02h12;39
8. Rugamba Janvier (Les Amis Sportifs)-02h12’39
9. Rugg Thimothy (Team Embrace the World)-02h12’43
10.Balaskovic Tom (Haute Savote Auvergne Phone, France)-02h12’43