Star riders Jean Eric Habimana and Jazilla Mwamikazi were on Sunday, April 23, crowned champions of the 2023 National Championship Mountain Bike XCO after emerging victorious in the race in men’s elite and women categories respectively. Held at Fazenda Sengha, Nyamirambo, the mountain bike race attracted at least 50 riders competing for different teams in various categories including Open Category which was a ride for fun race, Junior Men Category, Men Elite & U23, Junior Women and Elite women categories. Habimana, who rides for recently-established Java-Inovotec cycling team, won the Men Elite & U23 race after covering eight laps corresponding to 32 Km in one hour 30 minutes and 51 seconds. He crossed the finish line with a seven-minute lead ahead of second-placed Eric Muhoza who was competing as an individual while Theogene Nzamuye completed the top three podium in the process. He may have comfortably won the championship with little competition from his opponents, but Habimana insists that his focus was on earning points that would help him qualify for the World Championship. “It was not easy today. Mountain Bike racing requires pretty much training and experience to win it. I am so excited because I was able to get UCI points that can allow me to play the World Championship,” Habimana said after his Mountain Bike triumph. Meanwhile, Djazila Mwamikazi eased pressure from Martha Ntakirutimana, Violette Neza Irakoze to win the women’s mountain bike race after covering 16 kilometres in an hour five minutes and five seconds, just a second ahead of Ntakirutimana and Irakoze who emerged second and third respectively. Janvier Shyaka won the 16km Junior men’s race, beating Cine Elmay’s Kevin Nshutiraguma and Ntirenganya Moise of Les Amis Sportifs to the summit. In Open Category, Simon Hupperetz emerged winner after racing 16km in an hour 32 minutes and 10 seconds. He crossed the finish line, having opened a 12-minute gap ahead of second placed Marc Schut while Rwanda veteran cycling Nathan Byukusenge also made it to the podium after he emerged third in the category. Mountain bike racing is the competitive cycle sport discipline of mountain biking held on off-road terrain. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) recognised the discipline relatively late in 1990, when it sanctioned the world championships in Durango, Colorado.