Elite Men, top three
1. Patrick Byukusenge - 4:39:05
2. Jean Bosco Nsengimana - 4:39:05
3. Didier Munyaneza - 4:39:05
Women, top three
1. Xaverine Nirere - 2:53:30
2. Magnifique Manizabayo - 2:55:40
3. Jeanne d’Arc Girubuntu - 2:56:52
1. Yves Nkurunziza - 2:24:27
2. Jean Eric Habimana - 2:25:00
3. Eric Manizabayo - 2:27:16
Rubavu-based Benediction Club riders dominated Muhazi Challenge cycling race on Saturday as Patrick Byukusenga registered his first victory of the year.
As mysterious as it sounds, only three riders out of 44 entrants, managed to finish the Elite Men’s 175km race from Musanze district in North Province, through Kigali to Rwamagana district in East Province.
Muhazi Challenge is the 8th race on this year’s Rwanda Cycling Cup calendar whose rules stipulate that any rider, who lags behind the leading pack by 15 minutes, is automatically dismissed from the race, same as a rider, who is overlapped in a circuit.
Apart from six riders who crashed out earlier due to minor accidents, the rest of cyclists were overlapped by Benediction Club trio of Byukusenge, Jean Bosco Nsangimana and Didier Munyaneza, during the third lap in Rwamagana town hence forced to retire from the race with 8 kilometers to go.
The 25-year old Byukusenge won the race in 4 hours, 39 minutes and 5 seconds ahead of teammates Nsengimana and Munyaneza, who also used the same time.
The 2015 Tour during Rwanda champion Nsengimana was back in action after missing the Central Challenge earlier this month.
Team Rwanda cyclist, Byukusenge, becomes the 8th different rider to win a race in as many Rwanda Cycling Cup races this year.
In a windy situation, riders raced on high speeds in the early kilometers, mostly in hilly climbs and dangerous descends of Musanze.
After 5km, Nyabihu Cycling Club’s Alex Nizeyimana made a 30-second solo escape but was caught and swallowed by the chasing peloton shortly before reaching Buranga trading center.
After the Buranga climb, it was a flat terrain that saw Benediction riders Nsengimana and Byukusenge tried to take their chances and built a 20-second lead but it was cut rapidly by Les Amis Sportifs riders.
The key moment to Byukusenge’s o victory came after 70 kilometers when he, Nsengimana and Munyaneza escaped from the leading peloton and the trio never looked back.
The three entered Kigali, after 100km, with a 90-second lead and increased the lead to 3 minutes and 50 seconds by the time their checked out of Kigali.
The Benediction Club trio entered Rwamagana town 5 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of the second group that included; Gasore Hategeka, Jean Claude Uwizeye, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Camera Hakuzimana and Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo, among others.
They started the circuit (four 6km laps) in Rwamagana town in full control of the race but they never took any chances, they kept racing with a clear intent for a victory until they overtook the rest of riders on the third lap, which resulted in 30 of them eliminated.
Ndayisenga at World Champs
Meanwhile, two-time Tour du Rwanda champion, Valens Ndayisenga, competes in the Elite Men’s road race at the 2017 UCI Road World Championship in Bergen, Norway.
The 23-year cyclist will be up against the world’s best in the game in a total distance of 267.5km, starting at 10:05am (CAT) from Rong, Oygarden to Festplassen, Bergen.
Rwanda was represented by Ndayisenga in Elite Men’s race, as well as Samuel Mugisha and Joseph Areruya in U23 Men’s category but were among 57 riders, who failed to finish the U23 Men’s 191km Road Race that was claimed by French rider Benoit Cosnefroy. 121 cyclists completed the race.