PHOTOS: Team Rwanda Cycling jet back to heroes welcome

More than 20,000 fans poured onto the streets of Kigali on Tuesday evening to welcome Team Rwanda Cycling and, particularly, Joseph Areruya, the 21-year old rider who won this year’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo race on Sunday.
Team Rwanda celebrate their success at Amahoro Indoor Stadium yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.
Team Rwanda celebrate their success at Amahoro Indoor Stadium yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

More than 20,000 fans poured onto the streets of Kigali on Tuesday evening to welcome Team Rwanda Cycling and, particularly, Joseph Areruya, the 21-year old rider who won this year’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo race on Sunday.

Celebrations greeted the team’s arrival at the Kigali International Airport at around 3p.m, and jubilant fans accompanied Team Rwanda from the airport to Amahoro Indoor Stadium, where thousands danced and praised Areruya and his teammates for flying Rwanda’s flag high in Gabon.

While Areruya won the best individual award, Team Rwanda was named the best team at the competition.

“We went from zero to hero and are very excited to see the warmth and the love from the fans,” Areruya told cheering crowds at the arena.

He praised his teammates for jointly working hard and emerging triumphant in the West African nation.

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The winner of Tour du Rwanda 2017 Joseph Areruya becomes the third African rider to win La Tropicale in National Team jersey

La Tropicale Amissa Bongo is one of the most competitive and popular cycling competitions in Africa.

“On the last day of the competition I said to myself ‘you’ve got to do it’, to peddle hard until it hurts,” Areruya, who is also the reigning Tour du Rwanda champion, said.

Team Rwanda technical director and coach Felix Sempoma, said: “We left for the competition quietly but the scenes on our arrival are amazing, it’s wonderful.”

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Team Rwanda in joint action with cycling supporters sing and dance Intsinzi at Amahoro Indoor Stadium

He said the team had not fully grasped how much their performance had been welcomed back home. “It’s a fantastic atmosphere, we are so grateful.”

Areruya, fondly known as Kimasa (Kinyarwanda for ‘bull’) within the local cycling cycles, is the first African to win the annual race with a national team.

On his way to glory, the youngster first won the yellow jersey when he became the first rider to cross the finish line in the fourth stage of the competition. He held onto the yellow jersey through the final day.

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The celebration parade to welcome Team Rwanda riders and delegation after winning La Tropicale Amissa Bongo on Sunday,

Team Rwanda is comprised of six riders, namely; Areruya, Valens Ndayisenga, Jean Damascene Ruberwa, Didier Munyaneza, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana and Rene Jean Paul Ukiniwabo.

Besides the prizes that Team Rwanda won in Gabon, the stars were also awarded with different prizes during the welcome-ceremony in Kigali yesterday.  

Areruya received a complete DSTV installation kit and a one-month subscription, courtesy of Tele-10, while his teammates, as well as coach Sempoma, physiotherapist Obed Ruvogera, and mechanic Eric Maniraho received a Canal+ full bouquet complete with one-month subscription each.

In Gabon, Team Rwanda also won in the U-23 and best Africa categories.

Areruya is the first cyclist to concurrently hold La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and Tour du Rwanda crowns.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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Team Rwanda delegation were treated to a hero’s welcome
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Team Rwanda delegation were treated to a hero’s welcome when they landed at Kigali International Airport on Tuesday.
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Rwandans were at the airport to welcome Team Rwanda
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Rwandans have used many ways to congratulate Areruya Joseph
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Rwanda was represented by six riders at the seven-stage race in Gabon
151674643122Joseph Areruya's family waits for his arrival at the airport
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Members of media in action capture many rwandans who come to welcome Team Rwanda
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Many local jounalists capture Areruya and Team Rwanda images upon their arrival at Kigali International Airport
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Many flowers were given to riders as they come back home
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Many cycling fans sing for joy to welcome Team Rwanda
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Jean Marie Vianney Gahemba, Areruya's father, celebrates the victory of his son
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FERWACY President Aimable Bayingana was at the airport to welcome Team Rwanda
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FERWACY officials follow Areruya as he speaks about the rolling of the Tour
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FERWACY officials chat during the event to welcome team Rwanda at Amahoro Indoor Stadium
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Diplomats from Chinese Embassy hold Rwandan flag waiting to congratulate Areruya at the airport
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Cycling supporters sing for joy as they wait for Team Rwanda's arrival at Kigali International Airport
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Coach Sempoma speaks to the people who come to welcome Team Rwanda at the stadium
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Champion Joseph Areruya and entire Team Rwanda delegation were treated to a hero’s welcome at the airport
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At 21, he is also among the youngest winners of the elite race
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Areruya is the first Rwandan to win La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
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Areruya is the first cyclist to ever concurrently hold La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and Tour du Rwanda crowns
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Areruya by his arrival to Kigali International Airport
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Areruya and his parents pose for a photo at the stadium
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Areruya and his coach Sempoma celebrate the victory
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The parade from the airport to Amahoro National Stadium was organized to congratulate
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Team Rwanda and members of the delegation celebrate the triump during the event at Amahoro indoor stadium
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The winner of La Tropicale 2018 Joseph Areruya lifts up the trophy as he arrives at Kigali International Airport (Sam Ngendahimana)

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