South Africa’s UCI Continental Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka Manager, Kevin Campbell, has heaped praise on Rwanda’s fast-rising cyclist Joseph Areruya following his stunning stage win at the ongoing 2017 Giro d’Italia, that concludes on Thursday.
The former Les Amis Sportif de Rwamagana rider shocked the international cycling fraternity by winning stage 5 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia U23 on Tuesday on his debut.
This historic win was a first on two fronts, first, it marked Rwanda’s first win on the European racing circuit and it was also Dimension Data All-African Continental Team’s first victory outside the continent.
According to Campbell, prior to this win, Areruya carefully monitored late attacks in an 87.2km road stage and saw his opportunity with 5km to go. He then put in a strong counter-attack and rode away from the peloton, quickly opening up a 25 seconds lead on the main group.
The final 3km was all uphill though, with a maximum gradient of 18% before reaching the cobblestone finishing straight. While all previous attacks had failed, Areruya’s strength and tactical timing saw him ride to victory.
“We noticed the talent of Joseph a few years ago when we were racing at Tour of Rwanda, so for him to come in through this year and win a stage, the first Rwandan to win a ride race in Europe, was fantastic,” Campbell said in a statement.
He added that, “We have seen how strong he is, we have seen him getting better and better every year and then we saw, wow to win a race today (Tuesday) was a big surprise and we love such kind of surprises.”
The 21-year-old, together with his compatriot Samuel Mugisha, joined Dimension Data in January replacing reigning and two-time Tour du Rwanda champion Valens Ndayisenga (now with Austria’s Tirol Cycling team) and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, who is currently with Canada’s Lowestrates.com cycling team as a guest rider.
After this achievement, Areruya said: “My dream is to compete in the Tour de France, the biggest race of all, and seeing how Daniel Teklehaimanot, an African rider, who made it among the greats, succeeded.”
This was Areruya’s second accolade at the prestigious one-week event after winning the King of the Mountains award on stage one on June 9.
The achievement comes less than 12 months after Areruya, along with other three Team Rwanda riders; Jean Bosco Nsengimana, Jean Claude Uwizeye and Mugisha, hit the international stage in July 2016 as part of UK Tour.
The quartet took part in the UK’s Motorpoint national series as well as an invitation into the Ride London Classic (a UCI 1.HC race) against the world’s best riders, including Chris Froome.