Tour du Rwanda 2019: Debesay wins Stage 7 as race for yellow jersey goes to the wire


Stage 8: Kigali – Kigali (66.8km)

Stage 7 (select results)

1. Yakob Debesay (Eritrea) – 2:12:35
2. Alessandro Fedeli (Delko Marseille) – 2:12:56
3. Adrien Guillonnet (Inter Pro) – 2:12:56
4. Sirak Tesfom (Eritrea) – 2:12:57
5. Ricardo Aguirre (Inter Pro) – 2:12:59

9. Moise Mugisha (Rwanda) – 2:13:13
13. Merhawi Kudus (Astana) – 2:13:18
15. Samuel Mugisha (DiData) – 2:13:35
16. Joseph Areruya (Delko Marseille) – 2:13:44
23. Didier Munyaneza (Benediction) – 2:15:15

General Classification
1. Merhawi Kudus – 22:38:21
2. Rein Taaramae – 22:38:28
3. Matteo Badilatti – 22:38:39
4. Ricardo Aguirre Hernan – 22:38:52
5. Sirak Tesfom – 22:42:04

9. Didier Munyaneza
10. Joseph Areruya
16. Valens Ndayisenga
19. Samuel Mugisha
36. Jean Bosco Nsengimana
43. Moise Mugisha

Eritrean Abreham Yakob Debesay launched a stunning attack on Saturday to win Stage 7 of the Tour du Rwanda from Bugesera to Kigali.

Youngster Debesay, 19, claimed the 81.1km penultimate stage of the annual UCI Africa Tour race in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 35 seconds. He is the third Debesay family member to win a stage in Tour du Rwanda after Fregalsi Debesay (2010) and Mekseb Debesay in 2014.

Debesay, who won Tour de l’Espoir in Cameroon last month, finished 23 seconds ahead of first runner-up Alessandro Fedeli, Italian, who claimed the opening stage last Sunday.

Moise Mugisha, the King of the Mountains (KoM) jersey holder, was Rwanda’s best performer as he finished in ninth position, 38 seconds behind stage victor Debesay.

In the meantime, it is going to be a tight race for the yellow jersey in the ultimate Stage 8 on Sunday with only 7 seconds separating bearer Merhawi Kudus, of Astana Pro Team, and second-placed Rein Taaramae who is riding for French side Direct Energie.

The 25-year old also holds an 18-second advantage over third-placed Israel Cycling Academy’s Matteo Badilatti.

Kudus had a 17-second lead over Taaramae, and 45 seconds over Badilatti prior to Saturday’s Stage 7, which proved to be one of the most challenging despite being the second-shortest.

Wearing the coveted yellow jersey since Stage 2 on Monday, Kudus was well-positioned to challenge for a third stage win this year, but endured a crash with 7km to go before suffering a flat tire setback inside the final kilometre, which forced him to a 13th position.

Sunday’s Stage 8 in the capital – a 66.8km trek – will be another devastating route with seven categorized climbs including the notorious cobbled ‘Wall of Kigali’ that will be scaled three times before a final run uphill to the line at Kigali Stadium.

With his victory, Debesay ensured that the number of stage wins by Eritrean riders – in Tour du Rwanda since 2009 – hit a record-extending 24. Rwandans have won 19 stages.