After a historic triumph at the 13th La Tropicale Amissa Bongo on Sunday, champion Joseph Areruya and entire Team Rwanda delegation were treated to a hero’s welcome when they landed at Kigali International Airport on Tuesday.
Rwanda international Areruya, also the reigning Tour du Rwanda champion, is the first Rwandan and third African cyclist to win the UCI 2.1 category race after Eritrean Natnael Berhane in 2014 and Tunisia’s Rafaâ Chtioui in 2015.
At 21, he is also among the youngest winners of the elite race.
Areruya claimed also Africa’s highly rated cycling event in Gabonese capital, Libreville, a month after being named the second African best cyclist of the year, 2017, losing the crown to South Africa’s Louis Meintjes.
Last November, Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider Areruya became the third Rwandan to win Tour du Rwanda, the annual UCI-Africa, category 2.2 road race since it became part of UCI-Africa Tour in 2009, after Valens Ndayisenga, (2014 and 2016) and Jean Bosco Nsengimana, in 2015.
Arguably Rwanda’s most successful rider in history and among Africa’s greats at the moment, Areruya is the first cyclist to ever concurrently hold La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and Tour du Rwanda crowns.
Rwanda was represented by six riders at the seven-stage race in Gabon, coached by Felix Sempoma while Obedi Ruvogera was the team doctor and Eric Maniraho was the mechanic.
The six riders are; Didier Munyaneza, Jean-Damascene Ruberwa and Jean-Paul Rene Ukiniwabo, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Valens Ndayisenga and Areruya.
Ndayisenga and Uwizeyimana pulled out of the race in stage 5 due to accidents.
After the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, which is the first race on the UCI Africa Tour calendar, focus will shift to next month’s UCI African Continental Road Championship slated for February 13-18 in Rwanda.