Tour du Rwanda: Areruya credits teammates for win

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PODIUM GLORY: The Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu (3rd left) and the president of Rwanda Cycling Federation, Aimable Bayingana (3rd right), pose for a group photo with the top three; Joseph Areruya (centre), Eyob Metkel (4th left) and Suleiman Kangangi at the end of the competition in Kigali yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana

Stage 6: Top Five
1. Valens Ndayisenga (Tirol Cycling Club) 2h58’13’’
2. Ebrahim Redwan (Ethiopia National team) 2h 58’ 13’’
3. Cameroon Piper (Team Illuminate) 2h58' 13’’
4. Nicodemus Hourer (Bike Aid) 2h58’13’’
5. Eyob Mektel (Dimension Data) 2h 58' 13’’

General Classification
1. Joseph Areruya (Dimension Data) 20:21:29
2. Eyob Metkel (Dimension Data) 0:28
3. Suleiman Kangangi (Bike Aid) 1:29
4. Jean Bosco Nsengimana (Team Rwanda) 2:10
5. Patrick Byukusenge (Team Rwanda) 3:08
6. Valens Ndayisenga (Tirol Cycling Team) 3:19

Rwandans have proved to be the masters of their own race after Joseph Areruya claimed this year’s Tour du Rwanda to become the third Rwandan to win the annual UCI Africa Tour race in four years.

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Joseph Areruya holds the National Flag after winning Tour du Rwanda 2017.

The 21-year old, riding for South Africa-based UCI Continental Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, won the 9th edition of Tour du Rwanda, which ended Sunday with the seventh and final stage climaxing at Amahoro National Stadium.

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Minister for Sports and Culture Julienne Uwacu and FERWACY boss stands with the top three, Areruya, Ayob and Kangangi. S. Ngendahimana

The Rwamagana native was mostly with the highly coveted yellow jersey since throughout the race.

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Prime Minister Eduard Ngirente congratulates the winner of Tour du Rwanda 2017 Areruya Joseph ( Sam Ngendahimana)

Despite finishing 11th in the final stage, Kigali-Kigali (120km), which was won by compatriot and outgoing champion Valens Ndayisenga (Tirol Cycling Team), the day belonged to Areruya, who used a total of 20 hour, 21 minutes and 29 seconds for the entire eight-day, seven-stage race that covered 819 kilometres.

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Prime Minister Eduard Ngirente gives his remarks during the closing event of Tour du Rwanda 2017 in Kigali Convention Center

Ndayisenga won the last stage after impressing in the last lap.

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Sunday’s final stage, Kigali-Kigali covered a total distance of 120 km with some climbs.

Shortly after he was crowned the 2017 Tour du Rwanda champion, Areruya attributed his triumph to his Dimension Data teammates Rwandan Samuel Mugisha, Stefan DE Bod, Kent Main and Eyob Mektel.

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Tour du Rwanda 2017 winner Joseph Areruya celebrates his victory yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Eyob finished second overall, 28 seconds behind Areruya, while Ndayisenga came in 6th position in general classification, 3 minutes and 19 seconds behind the winner.

“It is a great honour for me, my country and my team (Dimension Data). I am very happy for my performance and my team. I cannot express my gratitude enough,” a visibly excited Areruya said in front of the adoring Rwandan fans at Amahoro National Stadium.

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Prime Minister Eduard Ngirente in a group photo with all riders of Tour du Rwanda 2017

Areruya made his Tour du Rwanda debut in 2015, as a teenage rider for Team Rwanda, a year in which Jean Bosco Nsengimana became the second Rwandan to win the race since it became a UCI-Africa Tour, category 2.2 road race in 2009. Ndayisenga had won it the previous year.

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Some of Rwandan riders who ride in Tour du Rwanda during the event

In the final stage yesterday, Dimension Data rider Mugisha led the peloton tackling in the first three laps to help his teammate Areruya in attacking and holding onto the yellow jersey.

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Sunday’s final stage, Kigali-Kigali covering 120 km with some climbs

Areruya, a former Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana rider, further noted: “I really enjoyed the race and to win at home is always sweet, this opens yet another chapter in my career.”

Areruya also won the best Africa and best Rwanda rider awards.

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Best combative rider was Van Engren of Germany-based UCI Continental Team Bike Aid, while Nathaniel Barnham of Eritrea National Team was named the best climber with 48 points.

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Stage 7 winner Valens Ndayisenga enjoys his victory. It was the first stage win for the defending champion in this year's edition.

Kenyan Suleiman Kangangi of Team Bike Aid finished in third place in the General Classification with 20 hours, 23 minutes and 58 seconds, while Team Rwanda captain Nsengimana came in fourth place (20:23:39).

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Team Rwanda riders Patrick Byukusenge and Jean Claude Uwizeye during the final stage on Sunday.

Patrick Byukusenge (Team Rwanda) completed the top five with 20 hours, 24 minutes and 37 seconds.

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Team Rwanda riders share a smile with a cycling spectator who gives them a gift

Out of the 73 riders that had started the race on November 12, only 57 completed the race.

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The final stage of Tour du Rwanda 2017 covers 120km

Meanwhile, by winning the final stage, Ndayisenga equaled the record of the greatest number of stage victories on the Tour of Rwanda (5) held since Saturday by Metkel Eyob.

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The final stage of Tour du Rwanda on Sunday, crossed different parts of Gasaba district in the City of Kigali.

This year’s edition attracted 15 teams including from five National teams, five UCI Continental teams and five clubs. The national teams were Mauritius, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Algeria and hosts Rwanda.

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The peloton did almost eight laps before some strong attacks that lead Valens Ndayisenga to win the final stage on Sunday.

The UCI Continental teams were: Dimension Data for Qhubeka (South-Africa), Tirol Cycling Team (Austria), Team Illuminate (USA), Bike Aid (Germany), and Dukla Banska Bystrica (Slovakia).

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Tour du Rwanda 2016 best climber Samuel Mugisha of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka leads the peloton at Kisimenti.

Regional or Club teams were; Club Benediction de Rubavu (Rwanda), Club Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana (Rwanda), Team Lowestrates.com (Canada), Team Haute-Savoie / Auvergne Rhône-Alpes (France) and Team Kenya Riders Safaricom (Kenya).

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Tour du Rwanda 2017 winner Areruya signs autographs for his young fans at Amahoro National Stadium. S. Ngendahimana

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