TEAM RWANDA will begin the 2015 cycling season with the Tour of Egypt from January 14-18, which is the first race on the UCI Africa Tour calendar.
Janvier Hadi, Valens Ndayisenga, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Joseph Biziyaremye, Patrick Byukusenge and Emile Bintunimana will represent the country as Rwanda returns to the North African competition after five years.
Team Rwanda Cycling (TRC) head coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer admitted it is a tough race because of the difference in weather conditions and landscape in Hurghada, Egypt, which is at sea level as compared to the hilly terrain in Rwanda.
“The weather is going to be hot and it will be difficult because it is not hilly. It is the first race of a difficult Olympic qualifying year and every team will be trying to get points,” Boyer told Times Sport.
Retired Team Rwanda rider Jean de Dieu Uwimana, who is now the team mechanic, reminisces that, “I remember when we rode at the Tour of Egypt in 2009, it was a very long flat stretch and there was too much wind all the time. It also got hot so it was difficult.”
Uwimana said drinking too much water was the way out, adding that this particular race is for riders with big chests who can withstand the gashing wind.
Boyer said this is one of the reasons Jean Bosco Nsengiyumva has been left out of the team because he is the best climber on the team and does not do well on flat landscapes. Boyer added that, “We also want to give other riders a chance at this level.”
Such topography is good for riders like Hadi who won a bronze medal in the U-23 category at the 2013 Africa continental cycling championships in Sharm el Sheikh, a city on the coastal strip of the Red Sea, which provided ground for him in the individual time trial.
Hadi, who won the prologue stage at the 2013 and 2014 Tour du Rwanda, has made his mark at this level winning the ‘Most Aggressive Rider’ jersey at this year’s Tour of Alberta in Canada.
The Tour of Egypt will have five stages amassing 700 km, with the highest point being 850 km above sea level.