With just over two weeks left to the 2016 Tour du Rwanda edition, Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) has released a list of 15 cyclists, who will carry the country’s flag when the 8th leg of the UCI-Africa Tour 2.2 road race gets underway on November 13-20.
The 15 riders were confirmed after last weekend’s Kivu Belt and Nyungwe Challenge races organised by FERWACY as final warm-up aimed at giving cyclists experience on the two routes that have been added on to this year’s Tour du Rwanda.
Kivu Belt, that covers a distance of 115.6km from Karongi town to Rusizi in the Western Province, will be stage number three, on November 16, while Nyungwe Challenge a 140.7km distance (the longest route), from Rusizi through the tropical rainforests of Nyungwe to Huye town, will be stage number four, on November 17.
The team include Joseph Areruya, the 2015 first runner-up, who also won the Nyungwe Challenge race; Gasore Hategeka, the winner of stage 3 of 2016 Tour de Côte d’Ivoire; 2016 Rio Olympic Games Mountain bike flag bearer Nathan Byukusenge; and Patrick Byukusenge, who finished fifth last year.
The others are; 5-time Tour du Rwanda winner Abraham Ruhumuriza (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007), 2014 stage 5 winner Joseph Biziyaremye, Eric Nduwayo, Samuel Mugisha, Jean Ruberwa, Jeremy Karegeya, Alex Nizeyimana, Jean Claude Uwizeye, Mathieu Twizerane, Ephrem Tuyishimire and Samuel Hakiriwuzeye.
According to FERWACY president Aimable Bayingana, the 15 riders will be divided into three teams of five each. The three teams include; Team Rwanda (national team), Les Amis Sportifs, and Benediction.
“We achieved what we wanted in the Kivu Belt and Nyungwe Challenge races, which was to guage how our riders are standing before the main event and to identify where we need to put more effort,” said Bayingana.
Reigning champion Jean Bosco Nsengimana, who won the Kivu Belt race last weekend, will race for Germany-based UCI Continental team Stradalli Bike Aid.
The 15 riders will enter residential training camp in Musanze on Sunday until November 13.
Meanwhile, two UCI Continental teams Sharjah Cycling Team (United Arab Emirates) and Tirol Cycling team (Austria) have opted out this year’s edition and have been replaced by two African national teams; Kenya and Cameroon.
Rwanda won the last two Tour du Rwanda editions through Valens Ndayisenga, who currently rides for South Africa-based Team Dimension Data, and Nsengimana.
In 2014, Ndayisenga became the first Rwandan rider to win the Tour du Rwanda since its incorporation into the UCI Africa calendar in 2009.