Team Rwanda Cycling will be hoping to be among the top two countries at the African Mountain Bike Continental championships this morning in Musanze in order to book a berth for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
According to head coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer, the home side’s target is to have as many riders as possible in the top 10 and with six riders competing in the men’s elite and two in the U-23 category, the set target is achievable.
Boyer said, “Our target is obviously to have as many riders as possible in the top 10. It is going to be a very difficult race because we have world class athletes here.
They’ve been here a couple of days, the course is very fast, it is not super technical which is okay for us. It does have a hill in it and it is at an altitude, so we do have some advantages but it is a mountain bike race and our riders are primarily road racers so it is going to be a very fun race.”
Team Rwanda will face a challenge from a field of elite mountain bike riders including three-time winner of the continental event Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes of South Africa as well as Namibia’s Heiko Redecker and Xavier Papo. The U-23 riders will race alongside the elite men but will be categorized separately.
Six countries including Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe are competing in the annual competition, a record attendance in the history of the continental showpiece.
Meanwhile, Namibia’s Tristan de Lange won gold in the men’s junior race yesterday as country-man Brandon Plaatjies and South Africa’s Johan Hartzenberg walked away with silver and bronze respectively in the 6km race on the course next to the Africa Rising Cycling Centre.
Lange said, “This is a dream come true, to win the African junior title. I worked so hard in training and I am proud of this achievement.”
In the women’s junior category, Zimbabwe’s Skye Davidson clinched gold while country-mate Stacey Hyslop won silver. Only the two Zimbabwean girls competed in the women’s junior race.
Team Rwanda men’s elite start list:
Joseph Biziyaremye, Nathan Byukusenge, Janvier Hadi, Camera Hakuzimana, Gasore Hategeka and Abraham Ruhumuriza.
Team Rwanda U-23 start list: Joseph Aleluya and Jean Claude Uwizeyimana.