The 10th edition of the annual Tour du Rwanda got underway yesterday, with Algerian Azzedine Lagab winning Stage I, the 15-lap circuit around Rwamagana town.
This year’s race coincides with Tour du Rwanda’s tenth anniversary as a UCI Africa Tour category 2.2.
Most importantly, the ongoing race marks the last time the competition is staged as a UCI Africa Tour category 2.2 race as it has been upgraded to a 2.1 race, a status that will come into effect next year.
The competition has grown by leaps and bounds.
It has fast grown in popularity both at home and abroad attracting competitive riders and teams from across Africa, Europe, Americas and elsewhere around the world.
In its ten-year short history as an internationally recognised race, Tour du Rwanda has fast become a favourite sport for millions around the country, prompting hordes of cheerful fans to line up the streets during each stage of the competition.
There are different reasons behind this, including the fact that the organisers, Ferwacy, have been efficient and consistent in their work, a far cry from the state of affairs at most local sports federations – which have been hugely disappointing.
The outcome? Tour du Rwanda has become the first African cycling competition to move up from one category to another despite the fact that it’s one of the youngest tours on the continent.
In addition, thanks to recent impressive gains in cycling, the country has also been awarded a UCI world cycling satellite centre – which will be one of the three such training facilities on the continent.
The development was announced Saturday by the visiting president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), David Lappartient, who hailed Ferwacy and the country on their accomplishments.
The establishment of a UCI world satellite centre – which will serve not only Rwanda and but the rest of Central and Eastern Africa as well– will see the upgrading of infrastructure, training equipment and expertise available at the Musanze-based Africa Rising Centre, home to Rwanda cycling.
All this would not have been possible without the support that Rwandan cycling has enjoyed from both the Government and people of Rwanda, as well as the dedication of Ferwacy officials, local cycling clubs, coaches, riders, as well as partners and the whole of the cycling community and fans.
Cheers to all those involved with Rwanda cycling and good luck to the riders who are on the road tussling it out for the 10th Tour du Rwanda title!