CYCLING legend Lance Armstrong could not hide his excitement after learning that one of his competitors at this year’s Tour of Ireland was Rwanda’s Andre Niyonshuti.
The 22-year-old, who is riding for MTN-Enegrade, a South-African based team made his major international debut yesterday during stage one of the three-day event.
Armstrong, who is riding for Astana told the Irish press that he was honoured to be riding alongside Niyonshuti.
“It is a big milestone for him since he is the first Rwandan to ride in the European Peloton.
He seems a very focused rider to me and could do well if he puts his mind into it,” the seven-time Tour de France champion noted before joking, “ If I were to have a beer with one person in this race, it would be that kid from Rwanda, matter of fact I will have that beer with him.”
Other big names in the tour include Britain’s Mark Cavendish, the Columbia HTC cyclist who won six stages at this year’s Tour de France.
Cavendish also won three consecutive stages of last year’s Tour of Ireland, which was won by Italian Marco Pinotti of Team Columbia.
The Tour of Ireland covers a total distance of 576km spread over three stages.
Stage one from Ritz-Carlton to Waterford covered 196km as will today’s stage (second stage) from Clonmel to Killarney.
The third and final stage (Bantry to Cork) on Sunday will cover 185 km.