Tour of Rwanda
-120 cyclists to take part
-A record 21 teams to compete
AS the 21st Tour of Rwanda rolls off this morning, Team Rwanda rider Gasore Hategeka is ready to cut the grade and impress in what promises to be the most competitive edition yet.
Like Rwanda’s professional rider Adrien Niyonshuti, the 23-year-old had a forgettable outing in the just ended African continental cycling championship after finishing 20th in the final phase.
However, a second spot finish in last month’s 144km tour of Kigali is good inspiration heading into today’s opening 162.8km stage (Kigali-Kabarondo-Kigali).
“The competition has attracted most of Africa’s top cyclists so it is a good opportunity for me to test myself,” he said adding , “my target is to have a good campaign and increase my chances of turning pro.”
Team Rwanda Coach Jonathan Boyer reckons that Gasore is the most improved cyclist this year and believes the youngster has the ability to rival Niyonshuti in the near future.
“He is a powerful rider and is very good at mountain climbing. Make no mistake; he is Rwanda’s next best thing.”
120 riders from 16 teams are in contention in the gruelling 1119.1 km race which has been spread over eight stages.
The teams include Castelsarrasin from France, Belgium’s Flanders AVIA, Team Type 1 of USA, Seychelles, Kenya, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Cameroon, Great Lakes team, new African champions Eritrea, UCI Continental and two teams for Rwanda; Team Rwanda Akagera and Team Rwanda Karisimbi.
One notable absentee from the pack is four-time tour of Rwanda winner Abraham Ruhumuriza. The 30-year-old rider has been sidelined by the National Cycling federation (Ferwacy) on grounds of indiscipline.
Last year, Morocco dominated the race with Adil Jelloul and Abdelaati Saadoune claiming the first and second slots. Niyonshuti finished third.
Tigo, Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Western Union, Ministry of Sports and Culture (Minispoc) and Fina Bank are the event’s main sponsors.