The national cycling team (Team Rwanda) assistant head coach Felix Sempoma has admitted that his team lost focus at the just concluded 2017 Tour of Cameroon, posting dismal performance at the annual UCI competition.
Despite fielding an experienced team for this year’s 14th edition, Team Rwanda failed to live up to their pre-race ambitions after the team failed to win a single stage, their worst performance at the competition so far.
The annual eight-stage event started on March 11 and climaxed on Sunday in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé. German Holler Nikodemus, riding for Bike Aid, won the tour after covering the 956.7km distance using a total time of 24 hours, one minute and 27 seconds. He dethroned Morocco’s Errafai Mohamed, who was the defending champion.
Rwanda finished third in the team general classification, behind Germany-based UCI Continental Team Bike Aid and Morocco national team.
“Honestly the performance was very disappointing to us, our ambition from here was to win stages and take the yellow jersey. After the first stage we didn’t make it but had a belief to defy the odds on the second day however, it turned out worse and continued like that, sincerely we don’t know what happened but we lost our focus and it was very unfortunate,” Sempoma
Unlike the previous editions where Team Rwanda riders won several stages, this time round, the team did not only fail to win a single stage but also had one rider finishing in the top ten.
Team captain Valens Ndayisenga, who was making his debut in the Tour of Cameroon and was Rwanda’s main hope for success, could only manage to finish tenth, clocking 24h04’44’, three minutes and 17 seconds behind the winner.
“We had very excellent preparations before and again fielded the best team that can win any competition, I think we have to sit down and identify what went wrong because it was really disappointing and time has come where we have to go beyond the boundaries of winning our own Tour du Rwanda only,” he further noted
Team Rwanda’s Jean Claude Uwizeye finished 11th in a time of 24h04’51’’ while Bonaventure Uwizeyimana (13th) clocked 24h05’20’ followed by Jean Paul René Ukiniwabo (14th) with 24h05’37’.
Jean Bosco Nsengimana (21st) and Ephrem Tuyishimire (23rd) clocked 24h11’43’ and 24h12’57’ respectively.
However, on a positive note, Nsengimana was the competitions overall best climber with 38 points ahead of Jelloul Adil from Morocco (28 points) while Ndayisenga, Uwizeye and Ukiniwabo topped the youth (U23) classification.