Tour du Rwanda routes
Prologue Stage, Nov. 13: Amahoro Stadium-Amahoro Stadium (3.3km)
Stage 1 – Nov.14: Kigali-Ngoma (96.4km)
Stage 2 – Nov. 15: Kigali Convention Center-Karongi (124.7km)
Stage 3 –Nov. 16: Karongi-Rusizi (115.9km)
Stage 4 –Nov. 17 Rusizi-Huye (140.7km)
Stage 5 – Nov. 18 Muhanga-Musanze (125.8km)
Stage 6 – Nov. 19 Musanze-Kigali Regional Stadium (103.9km)
Stage 7 – Nov. 20 Kigali Amahoro Stadium-Kigali Amahoro Stadium (108.0km)
With just three days until the start of the 2016 Tour du Rwanda, the three teams that will carry Rwanda’s flag continue to conduct their last minute preparations in Musanze District.
The cyclists hope they will ensure their country wins the title for the third year in a row.
The 2.2 UCI-Africa Tour road race, which is expected to attract a total 17 teams and 85 riders, gets underway on November 13 through November 20.
A visit to the 15 riders at their training camp at the Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Kinigi Sector, Musanze, on Tuesday, makes it evident that Team Rwanda, Benediction Club and Les Amis Sportif de Rwamagana are not leaving anything to chance.
Team Rwanda is under the guidance of American trainer Sterling Magnell, while Felix Sempoma is in charge of Rubavu-based Benediction Club with Les Amis Sportif de Rwamagana under the watchful eye of Jean Baptiste Rugambwa.
Veteran rider Nathan Byukusenge will lead Team Rwanda, which also comprises fellow veteran Abraham Ruhumuriza, Joseph Biziyaremye, Gasore Hategeka, and Eric Nduwayo.
Patrick Byukusenge will captain Benediction Club, with his teammates including Samuel Mugisha, Jean Ruberwa, Jeremy Karegeya, and Alex Nizeyimana.
Les Amis Sportif de Rwamagana is made up of Jean Claude Uwizeye (team captain), Joseph Areruya Mathieu Twizerane, Ephrem Tuyishimire and Samuel Hakiruwizeye.
This will be the first time that the two clubs – Les Amis Sportif and Benediction – will be competing in the annual event.
Previously, Rwanda was fielding three national teams – Akagera, Karisimbi and Muhabura.
Rwanda has won the past two editions through Valens Ndayisenga and Jean Bosco Nsegimana.
For the first time the race will reach the southern part of the country following the addition of two new routes, Karongi-Rusizi (115.9km) and Rusizi-Huye (140.7km), which will see the riders pedal through the vast tropical rainforest of Nyungwe.
“We are excited about the fact that our own club is debuting in Tour du Rwanda and we want to prove to everyone that we are the best team in Rwanda by winning this year’s race, we are prepared well enough and ready,” said Benediction Club’s Byukusenge.
In a separate interview, Les Amis Sportif de Rwamagana’s Uwizeye noted that; “This year, it is going to be a lot tougher because there are a lot of strong teams participating but we are optimistic about our chances.”
“We have experienced riders on the team including myself, Areruya (last year’s first runner-up), who has the potential to go a step better by winning the race this time round,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 2016 Olympian Nathan Byukusenge said: “We have had probably the best preparations we could ask for, it has been extraordinary, the trainers are not leaving anything to chance and neither are the riders taking anything for granted, so hopefully we shall retain the title.”
The 15 riders are expected to arrive in Kigali from Musanze on Friday ahead of the opening 3.3km prologue stage at Amahoro National Stadium on Sunday.