Tour du Rwanda 2023 concluded with a new champion Green Project-Bardiani rider Henok Mulueberhan, replacing Eritrean countryman Natnael Tesfasion to the crown. After week of intense competition through the hills of Rwanda, the final stage saw a fierce battle between the world's top cyclists, which ended in favor of the Eritrean rider who emerged victorious, just microseconds clear of second-placed Walter Calzoni of Q 36.5 PRO Cycling Team. Times Sport's Peter Kamasa brings you the major highlights of the 2023 Tour du Rwanda. A race to forget for Froome The fact that Chris Froome won seven world cycling championships including four times at Tour de France left only a few, or none, doubt his potential to add Tour du Rwanda 2023 to his yellow jersey cabinet regardless of playing the race for the first time. ALSO READ: Chris Froome confirms Tour of Rwanda 2023 participation The 37-year-old Israel Premier Tech veteran kept an eye on race leaders and prevented them from opening a big gap ahead of him. He was just 47 seconds behind the yellow jersey holder after four stages. The fifth stage looked like his perfect timing to make a comeback, close the gap or even take over the lead. And his plan could obviously have worked had it not been for a double crash which thwarted his chances of winning stage five. Froome pushed his advantage over the peloton to over three minutes, riding into the virtual race lead but, after two hours in the break, bad luck spoiled to his adventure, with a puncture halting his progress after he twice had a bike crash which saw him drop back to the peloton with 40km to go. Since he lost stage five, the race was never the same for the Briton who didn’t even manage to finish in the top 15. Not the ending he wished for and nor the performance people were expecting from him. Record number of registered riders For the very first time, 100 riders from 20 teams registered in Tour du Rwanda, the highest recorded for one edition since the race was registered on UCI Africa calendar in 2009. The number, however, dropped to 94 after Algeria pulled out of the event due to logistics issues before one more rider from Israel Premier Tech pulled out before the first stage. Of the 93 riders who started the race, only 55 managed to finish while 38 riders, including two Rwandans, abandoned during the race. The yellow jersey gamble The Tour du Rwanda 2023 yellow jersey was not decided until Mulueberhan crossed the finish-line at Canal Olympia leading the peloton of the 8th and final stage. It was his third stage triumph. The coveted jersey remained up in the air throughout the race since four various riders donned it over on different occasions. Ethan Vernon became the first yellow jersey holder after winning the first two stages in Rwamagana and Gisagara before Mulueberhan won stage three to take it away from the Briton. But Mulueberhane’s lead only took hours until French rider Thomas Bonnet emerged victorious for Stage Four to claim it. Bonnet also smelled it for quite a short while when William Junior Lecerf took it on Thursday despite losing stage five to Callum Ormiston after he put up a stunning solo sprint to clinch the 195.5 kilometre stage to Rubavu. When Mulueberhan retained it after stage 7, he never surrendered. He went on to keep one more time in the final stage and took it home as race winner. Mugisha’s loss, Muhoza’s gain Mugisha, the only Rwandan rider to have ever won a stage at Tour du Rwanda since it was sanctioned to 2.1 in 2029, was one of pre-tournament favorites for the international cycling tournament. Rwandan hopes were on the 26-year-old but, all of a sudden, he pulled out of the race with two stages to go when he abandoned after racing into the 120th kilometer of the 157 kilometers that riders were due to contest for from Rubavu to Gicumbi on Friday, February 24. Muhoza was privileged to take advantage of Mugisha’s poor showing and win Rwandan hearts during the race despite the fact that he was riding for Bike Aid. ALSO READ: Eric Muhoza: A standout Tour du Rwanda 2023 candidate? He did all he could and he never lost hope of becoming to first Rwandan to win the race since it was sanctioned to 2.1 category on UCI Africa tour. He was just eight seconds behind before playing the last stage. Rwandans were behind him, but Eritreans played for Mulueberhan and fought for him until he won the race. Muhoza finished 14th on general classification but he ended up becoming the best Rwanda rider and best promising Rwanda rider. Rwandans continue to struggle Tour du Rwanda could undoubtedly become a foreign riders’ race should the cycling governing body do nothing to change the trend. Foreign riders continue to raise the bar high at the race which no Rwandan rider has managed to win the race since it was sanctioned to 2.1 category on UCI Africa Tour in 2019. Ferwacy and stakeholders have numerous questions to attend to as long as homegrown riders who used to win the race now finish out of the top 10.