BY JULIUS MBARAGA
Top cyclists at the just concluded 2007 Tour de Rwanda were not amused with the prizes that were presented to them, Times Sport can reveal.
The 10-day competition that started on August 6, ended on Wednesday August 15 with a colourful prize giving ceremony that was held Wednesday at Amahoro national stadium.
Team Rwanda’s Abraham Ruhumuriza who claimed the Tour title, his third in addition to the two he won in 2004 and 2005.
The 32-year clocked a total time of 34hrs 53min 48sec to win this year’s event that attracted 34 riders, however, is one of those furious with the winners’ packages.
For his hard work, Ruhumuriza was presented with a cash prize worth Frw100,000 on top of a sports bicycle worth Frw 400,000 but he wasn’t satisfied and blasted the organizers saying that it was not logical to give him a bike, which does not corresponding to his cycling level.
“Most of us have been presented with bicycles that do not match with our cycling level,” Ruhumuriza fumed.
Adding that, “In the past editions where the level of competition was not as high as it has been this year, the winners received better cash prizes.”
However, Charles Kamanda, the president of the national cycling body reacted to Ruhumuriza’s outburst saying that prizes given depend on the financial muscle of the sponsors.
“The sponsorship package determines how we distribute cash prizes. The bigger the package, the bigger the cash prizes and vice verse,” Kamanda said.
Ironically, Kamanda cautioned cyclists not to focus on cash prizes but rather put their emphasis on the competition.
“In future, our cyclists should focus on the race rather than diverting all their attention and worries on cash prizes. In fact, for international races, top cyclists are only rewarded with medals. No cash is involved,” he noted.
Covering a total distance of 1177km, Rwandan cyclists dominated the 10-day event taking the top four spots.
In additions Team Rwanda A was took the top honours followed by Uganda, Team Rwanda B, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda B in that order.
This year’s event was jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports ministry and MTNRwanda.