After the 114.4km Kigali – Rwamagana- Kigali stage 1 that was won by Fedorov (Vino-Astana Motors), and considering other indications and precedents, here is a look at some of the riders who will fly and bring flare to the 12th edition game of leg muscle, mental fitness, and timing.
The Estonian rider, playing for Total Direct Energie finished as the runner-up to Eritrean Merhawi Kudus- the winner of last year’s Tour du Rwanda 2019.
He comes back with a hunch and ambition to win his first race in Africa and add Tour du Rwanda to his collection of victories globally.
In his package of victories include five yellow jerseys- from Vuelta a Burgos, Arctic Race of Norway (both in 2015), Tour de l’Ain (2009), Tour de Slovénie (2016).
He also carries two stage wins in Europe’s biggest and prestigious three-week-long cycling events- Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.
Taaramae is a rider who describes himself as ‘liking to live the moment’ which is seen in some of the victories in his bio and riding in 14 teams ever since he started kicking the paddles in 2007.
He finished eleventh at the Tour de France (2011), runner up at the Vuelta a Andalucia (2012), third at the Tour de Romandie, Volta a Catalunya and Criterium International (2011) and fourth at the Paris-Nice (2011).
Rwanda has six players and two of them are expected to do wonders. A choice between the two young riders Areruya (24) and Samuel Mugisha (22) will solely remain to their team work.
However, using statistics, Areruya has a big track record of winning three major tours including Yellow Jerseys at Tour du Rwanda in 2017, and in 2018 taking La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and Coupe des Nations de l’Espoir Blue Line.
He is equally young and very energetic, just as Mugisha, which will set a precedent for the competition as they climb ‘Wall of Kigali’ in Stage 7, on February 29 in Kigali Nyamirambo (4,5 km).
Areruya is number 9 on classification of stage 1.
Biniyam Ghirmay Hailu
He rides with Nippo Delko One Provence. The young Eritrean is among the Eritrean national team players who have, as a country, convinced the world of cycling as one of the most disciplined teams.
In Tour du Rwanda, he has come close winning stage 5, and coming 3rd in Stage 2 last year, and already, he is registering good performance coming Number 3 on stage one.
On his race line, Ghirmay surprised many spectators in 2018 when he became the only rider to beat Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel (son of the former professional cyclist Patrick Evenepoel) in a junior race to win the first stage of Aubel-Thimister-Stavelot- a Belgian road cycling race.
He has had a successful game ever time he participates at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo tour in which he has won three stages including beating Germany rider André Greipel on the line in stage 5 in 2019.
Eritrean runners continue to shine on this edition of the Tropical Amissa Bongo. His latest victories are the 6th stage of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo 2020 and the 3rd stage of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo 2020. He is currently 11th in the UCI Africa Tour Ranking
Number six on the classification of stage one, the Swiss rider who has won the Tour du Loir et Cher E Provost (2016), is among the 5 riders representing Israel Cycling Academy, which is here for the second time.
He has also twice come in 4th place at the Tour of Hainan (in 2016, 2018) and hold a top ten performance in: Tour de Suisse (2019) Tour of Austria (2018), Tour de Hongrie (2018), and Tour of Hainan (2017).
The 21 year old Ethiopian, who rides with Nippo Delko One Provence will be seeing his 3rd Tour du Rwanda in which he has come in the 3rd and 15th place in the general classification on this tour.
He finished on the podium in 2018 and 15th overall last year, and 3rd overall in 2018
The young man who was this year ranked 13th at the 5th Tour de La Provence youth category is very good at stage performance.
For instance, clocked 3rd in stage 2 of Tour du Rwanda 2018, 6th in stage 7, and 5th in stage 8 in 2019.
The Russian native rides in Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team, and is fresh from winning 3rd place in the 2019 Tour de Langkawi from which he also holds a yellow jersey in 2018.
He also holds a yellow jersey of Tour of Antalya (2018). This will be his first time in the Rwandan tour, and he is expected to shine using his wide global experience in china, Slovenia and Austria.
The 20 year old Kazakhstan national will be in Rwanda for the first time, riding with Vino – Astana Motors. Just like Ovechkin, he had a great Petronas Tour de Langkawi last week finishing second overall in its general classification, winning a stage 1, scooping 13th place in stage 6, and coming 9th in stage 4, in the same tour.
The 25 year old Ethiopian who rides with ProTouch has been in the Tour du Rwanda thrice and he managed to come in 6th and 7th place in the general classification in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
Ever since then, his performance in this tour has been outstanding in stages-coming 2nd in stage 4,
The 23 year old Columbian riding with Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec team, has great climbing skills. His team will have to decide on how he contests especially that he comes with teammate Jhonatan Restrepo who is also good at climbs.
Muñoz has an upper hand because he has more general classification titles in various tours in 2019 alone, such as overall winner of Cycling Tour of Bihor – Bellotto 2nd in Sibiu Cycling Tour, 8th in Tour de Hongrie, 9th in Adriatica Ionica Race and 23rd in Vuelta a Burgos.
The Spanish climber with team Novo Nordisk has achieved top results in the Tour du Rwanda and comes into this year’s edition with high expectations after winning the mountains classification at the Tour of Taiyun in China, last year.
He came 5th and 6th in Tour du Rwanda of 2018 and 2019 respectively. This adds to his winning streak like 5th overall in Tour of Estonia (2018), 17th and 18th overall in Crotia and Slovenia tours in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Though he is worried about the altitude in Rwanda, the 11-time Spanish national champion in mountain-bike and cyclocross racing remains hopeful.