Olympian Adrien Niyonshuti is excited about the possibility of competing at this year’s Tour de France after Team Qhubeka received a wild card to compete at the most prestigious cycling event in the world.
The 27-year old Rwandan cycling star, who has been riding for the South African club for six years now, has admitted that it will be the epitome of his career if he makes the cut.
This will also be the first time an African team competes in the prestigious Tour de France which has been in existence since 1913 and has always been dominated by Europeans and, until recently, Americans.
Speaking exclusively to Times Sport, Niyonshuti said, “I feel good in training and I am looking to a successful season ahead. I would like to be on the team that will compete at the Tour de France. It will be a dream come true. Every cyclist wants to race at this level.”
Niyonshuti, alongside the Eritrean trio of Natnael Berhane, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus and South Africa’s Jim Songezo, are the only black Africans in Team Qhubeka which is comprised of 22 riders.
Currently training on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Niyonshuti admits that his performance in the next few months leading up to the Tour de France will determine his fate.
According to Qhubeka’s founder Douglas Ryder, inclusion on the team that will take part in his side’s historic Tour de France showing will be on merit.
Team Rwanda cycling head of marketing and logistics Kimberly Coats expressed joy at the prospect of Niyonshuti becoming the first Rwandan to compete at the Tour de France.
“Adrien deserves it. He is a phenomenal rider and is working hard to get better every day. It will be such a historic moment if he makes the team. As Team Rwanda, we shall be so happy for him,” said the cheerful Coats.
Niyonshuti was Rwanda’s flag bearer at the London 2012 Olympics and has competed at the Commonwealth Games twice, including the 2010 edition in New Delhi, India and 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Rwamagana-born rider also competed at last year’s Espana a Vuelta in Spain.