Rwanda’s Joseph Areruya has been named African cyclist of the year.
The organisers of the trophy, Tropicale Amissa Bongo, announced the winner’s name on Friday morning.
Areruya, the reigning champion of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo is the first Rwandan who has been chosen as the continent’s top rider since the award was introduced seven years ago.
Africa’s top-rated Areruya who plies his trade with French side Delko–Marseille Provence KTM beat 14 nominees for the 2018 title who included three South African riders, three Eritrean riders, two Algerians, one Ivorian, one Burkinabe, one Kenyan, one Cameroonian and fellow Team Rwanda riders Samuel Mugisha and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana.
Mugisha, Tour du Rwanda reigning champion managed a sixth place finish while Uwizeyimana, a Tour du Cameroon champion finished 14th respectively.
Areruya beat South African Darly Impoey and Eritrean Ghebreigzabhier Amanue to replace reigning champion South African cyclist Louis Meintjes.
Speaking to media on Friday upon revealed as the African Cyclist of the Year, Areruya who was in training in Musanze said, “Thanks to God, it’s a great achievement and I am really happy and proud for having won this crucial title,”
“I have had a successful year taking part in different races and securing a professional club. This is a great motivation for me and Team Rwanda as we will be heading to Gabon to defend the Tropicale Amissa Bongo title,” added Areruya.
Areruya, 23, 2017 Tour du Rwanda holder, finished as the third best ranked African Cyclists in 2017 awards before making a rare record early this year when he won La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and the inaugural Tour de l’Espoir.
The 2017 Tour du Rwanda, La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and Tour de l’espoir race winner helped Rwanda to qualify for the 2018 Tour de l’Avenir, slated for August in France.
The former Les Amis Sportif cycling club rider also put up an impressive performance at this year’s African Continental Road Championships in Kigali, winning four medals, including two gold medals, one silver and a bronze.
His recent road show was in October when he finished 29th in the individual time trial of Chrono des Nations’ men’s elite race.
The African Cyclist of the Year Award was created seven years ago by the organizers of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo, always anxious to encourage the development of African cycling by rewarding the rider who has achieved the best performances of the season and managed by its influence to make known African cycling on the world stage.
The jury of this trophy is chaired by the former five-time winner of the Tour de France, Bernard Hinault and is composed of sports directors, coaches, leaders, African runners, African and European journalists.
Areruya who today was named in Team Rwanda for the 2019 Tropicale Amissa Bongo Tour due in January has succeeded former champions Natnael Berhane (2012), Louis Meintjes (2013, 2017), Mekseb Debesay (2014), Daniel Teklehaimanot (2015) and Tesfom Okubamariam (2016).
African Cyclist of the Year Award Winners
2012: Natnael Berhane (Eritrea)
2013: Louis Meintjes (South Africa)
2014: Mekseb Debesay (Eritrea)
2015: Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea)
2016: Tesfom Okubamariam (Eritrea)
2017: Louis Meintjes (South Africa)
2018: Joseph Areruya (Rwanda)