Africa’s best rider Joseph Areruya has hailed his professional move to French club Delko–Marseille Provence KTM, describing it as a “dream come true”.
“I signed a two-year contract with the club on Saturday; we are now processing paperwork so I can be cleared to ride in France,” the 22-year old told Times Sport yesterday, shortly after the French side announced his arrival.
The Rwandan star added: “It is an exciting new challenge, I look forward to learning, growing and contributing to the club’s success.
The deal was the culmination of talks between the youngster and the French club and explains why the reigning Tour du Rwanda champion didn’t travel with his now former Dimension Data for Qhubeka (South African club) teammates for a road race in Italy.
“I can’t wait to join my new teammates,” Areruya said.
Asked when he’s likely to link up with his new teammates, Areruya said, “I can’t really tell exactly when, but it’s likely to be after the Commonwealth Games.”
The XXI Commonwealth Games are scheduled for April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Australia.
By joining Delko–Marseille Provence KTM, Areruya, becomes the first African cyclist to ride for the UCI Professional Continental Team.
“We are delighted to announce the arrival of a new rider! Joseph Areruya, from Rwanda, and winner of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo 2018. Welcome Areruya,” Delko–Marseille Provence KTM announced on Sunday.
Delko–Marseille Provence KTM, a professional cycling team since 1974, currently consists of 14 cyclists that include six French riders, three Spaniards, two Italians, one Colombian, one Latvian and another from New Zealand. Areruya becomes the club’s 15th rider and only African.
Areruya, who has been riding for South Africa’s Dimension Data for Qhubeka since January 2017, leaves the club shortly after extending his contract, which was supposed to run until end of 2018.
Areruya’s move to the professional ranks follows a series of stellar performances in international competitions over the last five months.
The Rwamagana-born cyclist won Tour du Rwanda last November, the highly coveted La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January, and the inaugural UCI Tour de l’Espoir in Cameroon last month, helping Rwanda to qualify for the 2018 Tour de l’Avenir, slated for August in France.
The former Les Amis Sportif cycling club rider also put up an impressive performance at this year’s African Continental Road Championships in Kigali, winning four medals, including two gold medals, one silver and a bronze.
Areruya becomes the second Rwandan rider to join a professional cycling club outside Africa after Adrien Niyonshuti.