Team Rwanda eye medals at Tour du Cameroon


Jean Bosco Nsengimana will be part of the Rwandan riders competing for honours. File.

Race stages

March 10
Stage 1, Pouma – Kribi (154.4km)
March 11
Stage 2, Kribi – Douala (175.7km)
March 12
Stage 3, Douala –Douala (108km)
March 13
Stage 4, Douala – Limbe (85.5km)
March 15
Stage 5, Mbanga – Bafang (121.5km)
March 16
Stage 6, Bafoussam – Dschang – Bafoussam (98km)
March 17
Stage 7, Tonga – Bangangte – Tonga (83.7km)
March 18
Stage 8, Bafia – Yaoundé (122.8km)

TEAM Rwanda cylists are looking to win medals in the 16th Tour du Cameroon race slated for March 10-18.

The Rwandan team is returning to Cameroun, a few weeks after the U23 counterparts claimed the inaugural UCI Tour de l’Espoir in Yaoundé.

Areruya, 21, won the 4-stage 447km race while Sterling Magnell’s Team Rwanda finished top in team classification to qualify for this year’s Tour de l’Avenir, a race that is regarded as the U23 version of the famous Tour de France.

Talking to Times Sport on Monday, coach Benoit Munyankindi, said, “We are going to Cameroon with one mission; to do all we can and win the competition. The riders are fit and the mood in camp is promising.”

Rwanda is among the six African national teams at the 2.2 UCI category race, the same class as Tour du Rwanda, which is set for an upgrade to 2.1 effective 2019. Other national teams include hosts Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a separate interview, former national team captain Janvier Hadi, who is making his first international race since early 2016, admitted,” It is going to be a tough race, especially for Team Rwanda that has been lately winning everything on the continent. Every opponent will be targeting us. We need to be extra alert and put forward teamwork before anything else.”

The 8-stage showpiece has also attracted a total of four Europe-based UCI Continental Tour teams namely, Martigues Sport Cyclisme ,and Ckub de la Défense of France, Dukla Banska Bystrica of Slovakia, and Dutch side Global Cycling.

Apart from the national team, the host country will also field SNH vélo club, a select local cycling club, to increase chances for home riders to win the title.

In the 949.6km race, 2015 All Africa Games golden boy Hadi makes Team Rwanda line-up alongside former Tour du Rwanda champion Jean Bosco Nsengimana, former La Tropicale Amissa Bongo stage winner Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, former national champion Gasore Hategeka, Ephrem Tuyishime, and youngster Jean Damascene Ruberwa.

To date, Rwanda’s best performers at the annual West African race came in 2015 when former Rwanda international Emile Bintunimana finished third while Team Rwanda finished top in team classification. At the 2016 edition, Camera Hakuzimana also finished third.

Last year, two-time Tour du Rwanda champion Valens Ndayisenga was the country’s best cyclist in the race after finishing in the 10th spot overall, and top in the U23 category. Jean Claude Uwizeye finished 11th and second in youth category, followed by Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo in third position.

Team Rwanda finished third behind German UCI continental tour team Stradalli-Bike Aid and Morocco. Nsengimana was the overall king of the mountains.