Team Rwanda cyclist Joseph Areruya has come out early to make his intentions clear that he will be vying to become the third Rwandan rider to win the UCI-Africa Tour 2.2 Tour du Rwanda road race, which is set for November 13-20.
The 20-year old rising star finished second in last year’s 938.5km edition clocking a total of 23 hours 56 minutes and 35 seconds.
He came behind champion Jean-Bosco Nsengimana, who won the eight-stage race in a time of 23 hours 54 minutes and 50 seconds, hence becoming the second Rwandan to win the event since 2009 when it became part of the UCI Africa Tour.
Valens Ndayisenga, who now rides for South Africa-based UCI Continental Team Dimension Data, made history in 2014 to become the first and youngest rider, at 20 years, to win the prestigious competition.
With two Rwandans winning the last two editions, Areruya, who is tipped to be a future star, believes this year is his best opportunity to enter the competition’s record books. This year, the riders will cover a total distance of 818.7km, which is 119.8km shorter than last year.
Speaking to Saturday Sport on Thursday, “I am well prepared for this year’s race. I want to give all that I have and I believe I can win it, every year the competition becomes stronger with top best teams around the world participating.”
“However, I am confident that with teamwork from my colleagues, I can win the competition, and enter the record books as the third Rwandan to win Tour du Rwanda,” said the Les Amis Sportif Club rider.
Areruya is among the 15 riders that have been selected by Rwanda Athletics Federation (FERWACY) to carry Rwanda’s flag during the annual competition. The 15 riders will be divided into three teams, (Team Rwanda, Benediction Club and Les Amis Sportif Club.
This season, Areruya has competed and impressed in five international competitions, namely; Algeria’s Circuit de Constantine (winner), Tour de Bilda (second), GP de la Ville d’Oran (second), Tour International de Sétif (sixth), and Circuit d’Alger (sixth).
He noted that, “Our target is to work and defend whoever will get a yellow jersey first and I hope I will kickoff perfectly to get it and defend it throughout the competition, I am very happy with the preparations.”
Last week, Areruya won the Nyungwe Challenge, 140.7km (the longest route on Tour du Rwanda), from Rusizi through the tropical rainforest of Nyungwe to Huye town. This route will be stage number four, on November 17.
The other new route is the Kivu Belt that covers a distance of 115.6km from Karongi town to Rusizi, which will be stage number three, on November 16. This one was won last weekend by Tour du Rwanda reigning champion Nsengimana while Areruya finished second.