Team Rwanda cycling has pledged to bring home the yellow jersey in the 2022 Tour du Rwanda (TDR) competition that kicks off this morning in Kigali.
Tour du Rwanda is an annual Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) competition ranked 2.1 in the UCI Africa Tour series. This year’s event will be the 14th edition in Rwanda.
Rwandans who have managed to carry the TDR Yellow Jersey include Valens Ndayisenga (in2014 and 2016), Jean Bosco Nsengimana (in 2015), Joseph Areruya (in 2017), and Samuel Mugisha (in 2018).
Official procyclingstats.com records show that no Rwandan rider has won the tour since the 2019 edition.
Rwanda had a relatively poor performance in the 2021 edition which was won by a Spaniard- Cristian Rodriguez and the 8-stage race was dominated by foreign teams in the top 20 riders in the final and general classification.
In that edition, Rwandan riders only managed to secure the 23rd position (Eric Muhoza), the 25th (Eric Manizabayo) while Jean Bosco Nsengimana, who formerly carried a Yellow Jersey winning the tour in 2015 clocked 33rd.
To change this record at home, a 12-man team representing Rwanda has been training at the Musanze- based Africa Rising Cycling Center and across the country.
The team also this Friday received 8-new high-end performance bikes from Ridley- to have a spur at this goal.
Ridley bikes made in Belgium, weigh 16lbs thanks to their lightweight Ridley Elite carbon frame but also feature modern technology to perform exceptionally well on the track for both amateurs and professionals.
Rwandans participating in the 2022 TDR are from the National team, Team Benediction Ignite, and Protouch South Africa.
The national team includes: Seth Hakizimana, Renus Uwihirwe, Eric Muhoza, Samuel Niyonkuru and Emmanuel Iradukunda.
Benediction Ignite has Mike Uwiduhaye, Eric Manizabayo, Patrick Byukusenge, Janvier Rugamba, and Jean Bosco Nsengimana- who will have to show a comeback.
Protouch has two possible tour contenders Samuel Mugisha and Moise Mugisha- who joined the South African team this February to ride along with Main Kent, Ormiston Callum, and Charles Kagimu.
Looking at their personal cycling stats – most of them like Samuel Mugisha, Jean Bosco Nsengimana, and Seth Hakizimana will have to work double-time to win the competition following a drop in positions in the previous edition.
However, Patrick Byukusenge, the Rwanda Team captain, who moved six positions in the 2021 edition to secure the 47thspot, says that the team has no excuse to not win the 2022 edition.
“The previous challenges that we faced have been solved by providing us with what we need to win. Though we are in three clubs, we are one team-Rwanda and we have been training hard to win,” Byukusenge said.
Moise Mugisha, who has had a promising performance in the past editions coming second in TDR2020 and has scooped Grand Prix Chantal Biya says that Rwandans should have trust in their homeboys as they have learned and mastered the performance on other foreign players and will be able to use that to their home advantage.
Rwanda team coach, Sempoma Felix said that the local riders can win the 2022 edition considering a winning track record that has been registered in continental games like the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo- road cycling race held in Gabon as part of the UCI Africa games.
Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) chairperson, Abdallah Murenzi cautioned the Rwandan team not to repeat previous mistakes of underestimating other players but also to watch out and use the team effort to beat potential tour contender teams like B&B HOTELS – KTM which has a Tour du France rider.
Sports Minister, Aurore Mimosa said that with more 12 bikes government has and will continue to invest in the cycling sport so that local riders can win a home pride, but also to prepare for the UCI 2025 global cycling event.