Tour du Rwanda 2019 (2.1) – total distance 959.1km
February 24: Kigali – Kigali (112.5km)
February 25: Kigali – Huye (120.3 km)
February 26: Huye – Rubavu (213.1 Km)
February 27: Rubavu – Karongi (103 km)
February 28: Karongi – Musanze (138.7 km)
March 1: Musanze – Nyamata (120.5km)
March 2: Nyamata – Kigali (84.2 km)
March 3: Kigali – Kigali (66.8 km)
ASTANA Pro Team will compete in the 11th edition of Tour du Rwanda next year in what already guarantees to be a turning point for the annual UCI Africa Tour race.
The development was announced on Thursday at Classic Hotel in Kigali while Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) unveiled the route for the 2019 Tour du Rwanda – scheduled for February 24 – March 3 across the country.
The Kazakh side will be the first UCI World Tour team to take part in Tour du Rwanda, which is set to be Africa’s biggest cycling event effective next year.
Astana, one of the best cycling clubs on the planet, are regulars at the world’s biggest and most famous cycling race – the Tour de France. Italian Vincenzo Nibali won its 2014 edition while riding for the team.
While the race used to be – mostly – contested by UCI Continental and national teams, there will be a significant boost of UCI World Tour and UCI Professional Continental Teams effective next year, thanks to the upgrade from 2.2 to a 2.1 UCI category race.
The first edition of Tour du Rwanda under the 2.1 category will see riders facing a gruesome Stage 3 from Huye to Rubavu on a 213.1km distance, the longest stage in history of the event.
In total, the 16-team peloton win cover 959.1km over the course of eight days.
"We have started preparations early in order to have a memorable start to life as a UCI 2.1 event, the upgrade is a good challenge for organizers, as it is for Rwandan cyclists. It will motivate us to stay out of the comfort zone,” said Ferwacy president, Aimable Bayingana.
Unlike in the last ten years where Rwanda used to be represented by three teams, this time the hosts will only field two teams; the national team – Team Rwanda – and Benediction Cycling Club who are in the process of registering as a UCI Continental Team.
Youngster Samuel Mugisha claimed Tour du Rwanda’s final edition as a UCI 2.2 race in August as he became the fourth Rwandan rider to win the race since Valens Ndayisenga’s 2014 historic triumph. The latter also won it in 2016.
Full 16-team list
UCI World Tour: Astana Pro Team (Kazakhstan)
National teams: Rwanda, Algeria, Cameroun, Kenya Eritrea and France U23
UCI Continental Teams: Dimension Data for Qhubeka (South Africa), Pro Touch Team (South Africa), Nice Ethiopia pro team, Bai Sicasal Petro de Luanda (Angola), Interpro Stradalli Cycling (Japan) and Benediction Continental Team (Rwanda)
UCI Professional Continental Teams: Team Nova Nordisk (Spain), Direct Energie (France) and Delko Marseille Provence (France)