Team Rwanda Cycling was majestically welcomed on Monday night at Kigali International Airport after a stunning performance that saw golden boy Joseph Areruya winning the inaugural Under-23 UCI Tour de l’Espoir on Sunday evening in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Sterling Magnell’s men finished top of the 15-team table in team classification while Areruya, 21, yet again cemented his place among Africa’s cycling greats to win the 4-stage U23 cycling event, the first of its kind on the continent.
As a result, Areruya and Team Rwanda qualified for this year’s Tour de l’Avenir, the world’s top-rated U23 cycling event scheduled for August 17-26 in France.
Tour de l’Avenir is the U23 version of the famous Tour de France.
Led by Rwanda Cycling Federation’s president Aimable Bayingana, Team Rwanda delegation landed in Kigali on Monday night at 9pm and was welcomed by a multitude of fans, the media and officials from the cycling federation and Ministry of Sports and Culture, MINISPOC.
Among others, the delegation was received by the Director of Sports in MINISPOC, Emmanuel Bugingo and MINISPOC Permanent Secretary, John Ntagengwa.
Also part of the welcoming party was former Minister of Sports and Culture, Joseph Habineza.
New on the UCI Africa Tour and one of the only six U23 cycling races in the world, Tour de l’Espoir attracted a total 83 riders representing 15 countries, including Vietnam as the sole non-African team. Riders raced to a total 447km across the West African country.
Tour de l’Espoir is the third consecutive major victory for Areruya, who claimed Tour du Rwanda last November and Africa’s sole UCI 2.1 rated cycling event, La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, last month in Libreville, Gabon.
After Tour de l’Espoir, the six-man team from Cameroon are joining the rest of Team Rwanda riders in residential camp at Golden Tulip Hotel in Nyamata – Bugesera in preparations for the forthcoming UCI Africa Road Championship scheduled for February 13-18.