Germany-based Stradalli–Bike Aid are very optimistic of becoming the second UCI Continental team to win Tour du Rwanda. Bike Aid’s charge will be led by their Rwandan reigning champion Jean Bosco Nsengimana.
The 8th edition of the UCI-Africa Tour 2.2 race, slated for November 13-20, has been dominated by national teams since 2009 when it became part of the UCI Africa Tour, with United States-based Team Type 1–Sanofi the only UCI Continental team to have won it, back in 2011.
However, Bike Aid, which is among the four UCI Continental teams that will grace this year’s seven-stage showpiece, are confident that their star man, Nsengimana, who joined the club in June, can win the Tour for the second year in a row, provided he gets the support he needs from his teammates.
“For the Tour of Rwanda 2016, the goals of the team (Bike Aid) have a little bit changed; last year, we went for stage wins with Mekseb Debesay and Meron Amanuel. But this year, we have last year’s overall winner in our ranks and we will give him all the support we can for him to win the Tour again,” said Timo Schäfer, one of the team managers.
Schäfer further explained that, “We hope that we can support Nsengimana the best way, the goals are set and the ambition is high. Seven hard days during the end of Tour du Rwanda will show us what we really can do.”
The 22-year old Nsengimana is currently training in Rwanda at Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Musanze District, along with the 15 local riders, who will represent Rwanda.
Among other competitors that will ride along Nsengimana includes Eritrean Meron Amanuel Mengstab (winner stage 2 and 6 of Tour du Rwanda 2012), Tanzanian Richard Laizer, Damien Garcia from France and Mathias Schnapka from Germany.
“For us, Tour du Rwanda is very important not only because we have Nsengimana, who can win it, but also because of the very special atmosphere and the huge enthusiasm by the locals,” Schäfer noted.
This year’s edition will attract over 85 riders under 17 teams from different parts of the world. These include eight African national teams, four UCI continental teams, and five regional teams or clubs.
8 African national teams:
- Team Rwanda
- National Team of Kenya
- National Team of Cameroon
- National Team of South Africa
- National Team of Ethiopia
- National Team of Eritrea
- National Team of Egypt
- National Team of Algeria
4 UCI Continental Teams:
- Dimension Data For Qhubeka (South-Africa)
- Kenyan Riders Downunder (Kenya)
- Cycling Academy Team (Israel)
- Stradalli Bike Aid (Germany)
- Les Amis Sportif (Rwanda)
- Benediction Club (Rwanda)
- Team Lowestrates.Com (Canada)
- Team Haute-Savoie Rhone-Alpes (France)
- Team Furniture Decarte (Switzerland)