With one six days until the start of the 10th Tour du Rwanda edition, Benediction Excel Energy Club have set their sights on a strong performance in this year’s race, due February 24-March 3.
The Rubavu-based side became the first Rwandan cycling club to compete at the international level after they were registered as an UCI Continental Team.
Benediction Club was founded by Felix Sempoma 2005, the club president. They are mainly sponsored by Excel Energy and Inyange.
Club Benediction roster for the 2019 Tour du Rwanda announced on Saturday, include Patrick Byukusenge, Jean Bosco Nsengimana, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Didier Munyaneza (U23), Eric Manizabayo (U23), Yves Nkurunziza (U23), and Jean Claude Nzafashwanayo (U23)
“We want to compete at the highest level during this year’s edition” Sempoma said. The professional club will be making their second appearance in the annual cycling competition, arguably the best on the African continent.
This is the first time Tour du Rwanda will be held as a 2.1 category race and this year’s edition will be taking place much earlier in the year than previously to allow for top riders from around the world to participate.
Thanks in part to the fact that the race has been elevated in status the rewards have also been increased around fivefold up from US$23,860 (about Rwf19.7 million) previously.
Tour du Rwanda became part of UCI Africa in 2009 and it has since grown to attract over 500 riders from across the world.
Rwanda’s Samuel Mugisha is the reigning champion.
He is the fourth Rwandan to ever win the race after Valens Ndayisenga (2014, 2016), Jean Bosco Nsengimana (2015) and Joseph Areruya in 2017.
Meanwhile, France’s Delko Marseille Provence have named the team that will compete in Tour du Rwanda led by Rwanda international Joseph Areruya. Other riders include Alessandro Fedeli (Italy), Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Pologne), Rémy Rochas (France) and Julien Trarieux (France)