Riders rank Tour du Rwanda high on UCI-Africa Tour
By: PETER KAMASA
PUBLISHED: November 19, 2016
Some of the riders participating in Tour du Rwanda 2016
Some of the top riders competing in this year’s Tour du Rwanda have admitted that the international race is one of the most competitive on the UCI-Africa Tour, after La Tropicale Amissa Bongo.
The 8th edition of the annual category 2.2 road race started last Sunday and will reach its climax tomorrow after going through most parts of the country and covering a total distance of 819.1 kilometers.
The last two editions of the grueling week-long race saw Rwandan riders dominate the international event, but this year could be difficult as foreign riders want to make sure the title doesn’t stay in Rwanda for a third consecutive year.
The race overall leader, Valens Ndayisenga, winner of the 2014 edition, says; “Tour du Rwanda has become a really top level race and whoever wins deserves it because it’s a tough race and very hard to win.”
Tour du Rwanda, which became a UCI-Africa Tour race in 2009, is designed exclusively for cyclists competing at the international level, and it has had a different winner since the first edition.
Team Rwanda captain Nathan Byukusenge said; “Tour du Rwanda has helped Rwandan cycling to get known at the international level but it has also attracted many tourists to the country.”
“The race has moved from the initial local event to an international race, which is something good for our riders and our country,” added the 36-year-old rider, who plans to retire at the end of this year.
The prologue and stage four winner Timothy Rugg of Team LowestRates.ca from Canada says, “I am surprised by the atmosphere on the roads. There are so many people lining up the routes we pass.”
“There are many races in Europe or elsewhere, where there is no such organization and interest from the general public. I am proud to win here in Rwanda and able to win some stages,” noted the American, who is racing in Tour du Rwanda for the first time.
Canadian Guillaume Boivin, a former rider for Italian Cannondale Team before traveling to Israel this year for the Cycling Academy Cycling Team, went a step further than his rivals saying that Tour du Rwanda is probably the most competitive race on the continent.