Mathieu Twizerane put up a spirited fight to win the Central Challenge Race on Saturday in Muhanga District – the Central Challenge is the 7th race of the 2017 Rwanda Cycling Cup.
Riding for Huye-based Cycling Club for All, Twizerane used 3 hours and 47 seconds to cover the 115km distance from Nemba in Bugesera district to Muhanga town.
The 26-year old Twizerane escaped the leading peloton from Kamonyi town, about 37 kilometres to the finish line, and he never looked back.
It is not only Twizerane’s first victory in Rwanda Cycling Cup since its inception in 2015 but also the first win of his professional cycling career.
The race defending champion, Gasore Hategeka, finished second after clocking 3 hours, 1 minute and 58 seconds.
Youngsters Jean Paul René Ukiniwabo and Didier Munyaneza, who also used to the same time (3:01:58) finished in third and fourth places respectively, while Twizerane’s teammate Camera Hakuzimana (3:02:02) completed the top five.
Pre-race favourite and two-time Tour du Rwanda champion, Valens Ndayisenga (3:07:07), finished in a distant 14th place after a tyre puncture with 25 kilometres to Muhanga town.
Patrick Byukusenge (3:02:27) finished 6th, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana (3:04:36) finished 8th while Jean Claude Uwizeye came on the 9th position after using 3 hours, 4 minutes and 38 seconds.
Ukiniwabo, who was one of the most impressive youngsters at last month’s Colorado Classic in the United States, won the U23 category.
Meanwhile, Béathe Ingabire, riding for Rwamagana-based Les Amis Sportifs, claimed the top prize in women’s 81km category to successfully retain her title, while Eric Manizabayo won the men’s junior race, which started from Nyamata to Muhanga.
Twizerane walked away with Rwf100,000 in cash prize, Ukiniwabo pocketed Rwf60,000 while the Ingabire and Manizabayo, both took home Rwf50,000 each.