Rwanda’s fast-rising cyclists Joseph Areruya and Samuel Mugisha are close to joining South African-based Continental Team, Dimension Data for Qhubeka. The two are set to sign a one-year contract that runs until the end of 2017.
The duo will replace their counterparts Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, and the reigning Tour du Rwanda champion Valens Ndayisenga whose one-year contract with the team ends in January.
Ndayisenga, fresh from winning the 2016 Tour du Rwanda, and Uwizeyimana, are already back home and rejoined their former clubs, Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana and Club Benediction de Rubavu, respectively.
Dimension Data are urguably the best cycling team in Africa and they topped the teams category at the just-concluded Tour du Rwanda.
Another Rwandan rider, Adrien Niyonshuti, is also on the books of Dimension Data’s World Tour team that is based in Italy and competes on the European Tour.
The development comes after the duo’s impressive campaign in the 2016 Tour du Rwanda, which Ndayisenga won for the second time following his success in 2014, hence becoming the first rider to win the category 2.2 UCI Africa Tour road race twice.
“Dimension Data expressed their interest in the two riders and approached us. Although we have not yet finalised everything, hopefully everything will be done by next week and the pair will fly to South Africa,” Team Rwanda assistant coach Felix Sempoma told Times Sport on Wednesday.
Twenty-year-old Areruya, who has been riding for Les Amis Sportif de Rwamagana, finished in fourth place in the general classification in the 2016 Tour du Rwanda and won stage four (Rusizi-Huye, 140.7km) which was the longest route at this year’s tour.
On the other hand, 18-year-old Mugisha, described as the new king of mountain climbing and tipped to be the future face of Rwandan cycling, was among the six cyclists that made their first appearance in the annual race.
He surprised many when he emerged the best climber at the end of the eight-day competition, beating top professional experienced riders to the award.
The Musanze-born youngster beat his closest rival, Hailay Kibrom Giday from Ethiopia, by 60 points while his Benediction Club teammate and captain Patrick Byukusenge emerged the second runner-up having collected 20 points.
Areruya made his debut of Tour Rwanda in 2015 riding for Team Rwanda Akagera, finishing second behind Team Rwanda Karisimbi’s winner Jean Bosco Nsengimana, who clocked 23:54:50 beating the Rwamagana-born rider, by one minute and 45 seconds.
That same year, he finished second in the National Road Race Championships before finishing third in the National Time Trial Championships and U23 National Time Trial Championships respectively.
He also competed in the Tour de Côte d’Ivoire, finishing in fifth place before competing at last year’s All Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville road race where he finished in seventh place. Team Rwanda’s Janvier Hadi won gold.
In 2016, Areruya won Algeria’s Circuit International de Constantine (1.2), a 105km race before finishing second at Tour International de Blida, Grand Prix de la Ville d’Oran, also part of Tour of Algeria.