Stage 1: Douala – Douala – 92km
Rwanda U23 national team, led by La Tropicale Amissa Bongo 2018 winner Joseph Areruya, begins their bid to win the inaugural Tour de l’Espoir race that starts Wednesday afternoon in Douala, Cameroon.
The opening stage of the continental event starts at 3:30pm at Boulevard de la Reunification, the same finish point they will use after a number of laps across Douala city. Riders will compete a total distance of 92 kilometers.
Currently ranked number four in Africa, Rwanda is one of the teams to watch in Cameroon, especially after winning Africa’s two highly-rated cycling events, namely; Tour du Rwanda 2017 and La Tropicale Amissa Bongo last week.
The 21-year old Areruya will be in the spotlight once more, fighting to claim a third consecutive major win, but also seeking to book ticket for this year’s Tour de l’Avenir, should he finish in the top two of the 4-stage race.
Initiated in 1961, Tour de l’Avenir is the U23 version of Tour de France and has attracted several riders who went to win Tour de France in their senior careers.
Speaking to Times Sport from Douala on Wednesday morning, Rwanda Cycling Federation president, Aimable Bayingana, said, “The riders are in good shape and prepared to win the race. Everyone on the team is excited to fly high the country’s flag.”
Team Rwanda faces a stiff challenge in their bid to win the race, especially from the usual suspects such as Eritrea, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Ethiopia.
The six-man Team Rwanda roster is comprised of Areruya, Samuel Mugisha, Samuel Hakiruwizeye, Didier Munyaneza, Jean Paul René Ukiniwabo and Jean Damascene Ruberwa.
The five-day event has attracted a total 87 riders representing 15 countries.
Organized by Vivendi Sports under the aegis of Cameroon Cycling Federation and International Cycling Union, Tour de l’Est starts today and will run through to February 4.