Tour du Rwanda excites Rusizi residents
By: PETER KAMASA
PUBLISHED: November 18, 2016
Lowestrates.ca rider chats with young cycling fans in Rusizi on Wednesday. (Faustin Niyigena)
For the first time in the history of Tour du Rwanda, the race reached Rusizi District in the Southern Province causing excitement among the area residents.
On Wednesday the annual UCI Africa Tour category 2.2 road race reached the furthest part of the country following the addition of two new routes; Karongi-Rusizi (115.9km) and Rusizi-Huye (140.7km) through Rwanda’s vast tropical rainforest of Nyungwe.
The third stage on Wednesday was taken by prologue winner, Timothy Rugg, who rides for Canadian side Team Lowestrates.ca after clocking 3h18’16’’ and was followed by Les Amis Sportifs rider, Joseph Areruya by a difference of two seconds. Race leader, Valens Ndayisenga finished the stage in 7th place.
“This is a great moment for the people of Cyangugu (Rusizi), we have waited for so long to see the tour come to our place, finally we are happy to see the riders with our own eyes and not to wait to see them on TV, ” said Casmus Niringiyimana, a resident of Rusizi.
Another resident, Samuel Karamaga, noted, “We are very excited about the race, but more especially that our riders are doing well, and even when we can’t follow them in every stage, we are all behind them, personally, I’m happy to see Tour du Rwanda for the first time and I can’t wait for next year.”
The two routes; Karongi-Rusizi (115.9km) and Rusizi-Huye (140.7km) are characterized by hills, mountains, sharp corners where riders have to be careful so that they don’t crash. The riders have to brace for the rains and chilly weather as they go through Nyungwe forest.
Since becoming an International Cycling Union (UCI) certified race, Tour du Rwanda has produced a different winner each year.
In 2014, Ndayisenga became the first Rwandan rider to win the Tour since its inception on the UCI Africa calendar in 2009, and was dethroned by teammate, Nsengimana.
However, both riders have since joined professional teams—the former signing for South Africa’s Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka while the latter, joined Germany-based Stradalli-Bike Aid.